At Weddings

(Saddle Creek)


You’ll have heard a coming-of-age record before, whether mourning your wrinkles to the grizzly orbit of Bob Dylan’s ‘Planet Waves’, or buying your third tub of anti-ageing cream in as many weeks as Frank Ocean’s latest lament plays through your battered Walkman… “We’ll never be those kids again.”

Tomberlin’s debut record is also a coming-of-age record. But, born in Jacksonville, Florida, to a Baptist pastor, coming-of-age in Tomberlin’s book isn’t just the teenage odyssey of lost loves and new-fangled surroundings, but unlearning the systems of faith and identity that grounded her childhood, forcing her to face a complete deconstruction of her life as she knew it.

‘Any Other Way’ is the perfect opening to such confusion, weaving the vocal fragility of label-mates Big Thief and the worldly sincerity of someone double her age. As you hear every guitar string strung, the refrain of “I didn’t know any other way” takes on a candor that guides Tomberlin through the introspective vulnerabilities that follow.

‘Tornado’ is a beautiful hunt for self-definition (“I am a tornado with big green eyes and a heartbeat”) while ‘You Are Here’ offers that self-definition back into someone else’s hands (“I’m trying to give you everything you want and I’m trying to be everything you want.”).

Written as a means of getting through one stage of life to the next, for all the maturity ‘At Weddings’ offers lyrically there’s little change of instrumental pace on the record. Growing up is tumultuous, but each track here exists within the same reserved dimension. But, as Tomberlin fights the fondness of nostalgia, treating the album with the patience it requires might leave you realising just what an impressive introduction it is.