Beth Bombara sits outside the Magic Rat in Fort Collins, CO continuing her national tour for the release, Map & No Direction. Her tone is full of anticipation and reflection on the journey she took to compose this piece of work. Map & No Direction is an evolution for Beth. It represents a change, a growth in her creativity, and her struggle with depression.
“You know, a lot of artists have ups and downs, and I was at a pretty low point. I wasn’t inspired to write music. I didn’t want to play the guitar, and I did not even want to get out of bed. So writing this album was like a slow climb out of that. I wrote my way out of that very low point. The title song Map & No Direction was the first song that I wrote. It was beginning of the process, like climbing out of the darkness.”
The interesting thing about the album Map & No Direction is that Beth has people tell her often that those songs or that song, in particular, has helped them go through a healing process. “The song was an amazing gift to me, and it is even more amazing that it can help others in the same way. Music is a healing process. When I was writing Map & No Direction, I didn’t know what it was about until it was finished. Writing can be like self-realization for me, a kind of meditation.” Indeed Beth is in touch with a place of vulnerability that opens the door for others to seek solace and healing through her melodies.
“I didn’t know it would help other people in that way. People have sent me messages about how my music has helped them get through hard times, including life threatening illnesses, and the loss of loved ones, and say my music has helped them get through that hard time.”
Creativity is not always such an easy career path, and it isn’t straightforward.
Beth says, “I think the ups and downs of being a creative is a struggle. When the work comes it rushes, and when it doesn’t it doesn’t, and there are so many doubts that go with it. That’s what I was doing a lot in my darkest place, doubting my abilities, and that can turn into a horrible cycle. To constantly doubt yourself.”
This tour is different from past projects for Beth, “So Kit and I have done a lot of Duo stuff together, and he had an upright bass that kind of fit the songs that I was writing at the time. Then when I released my most recent album, I reached a point where I realized this Duo that we had done wouldn’t be able to get across the newer songs that I had written. And so at that point, I put together a full band.”
Beth has been a solo artist, and she has been in a duo with her husband Kit. He is front and center in her group and her musical career. She met Kit at an artist community program in 2001 and they are now married. Beth says it is definitely an enriching relationship in both love and music. “Life is never dull, I found that we work well together because we’re so different but because different things are hard to navigate, but we’ve been able to figure that out. He does a lot of producing and Engineering/Recording, and so having that mind of someone who can see the big picture and the vision to make whatever the best version of a song is great. So I come up with basic ideas, and then he helps me hone them in.”
Her approach to songwriting is always through a creative vein, and she lets the music come to her, and that is why her sound is so unique. It comes from a place deep within and is not forced or groomed until she processes what erupts emotionally when she lets it flow. “Generally, the music and the melody comes to me first. Occasionally, and in this is only happened to me once, but it is the most amazing magical thing: I sat down and wrote a song, The music, the lyrics, the melody, everything completely rushed into the session, and like one hour just sitting down. That’s never happened to me before, but that’s like a magical experience in songwriting for me. The song is Long Dark Hallelujah.”
What is next for Beth? She is taking this new band experiment and writing while on tour.
“I’m working on writing a new album while touring with the band. When we were passing through Denver we stayed at a friend’s house, and we brought our gear into her basement, and we worked out a couple of songs.”
She wants to write together each night to explore this new energy and track the songs live when they record.
“I’ve never done that on the road before with the band. So, it is a fresh first experience. I think the goal with this next album I wanted to take the song ideas to the band, and we’ll work them out together and then I’m hoping we can go and track those songs live in the studio. We did it that way with my self-titled album which and I never tracked a record that way before. The process was a cool way to do it because you do like five takes of one song and then everybody’s like, okay, which takes did you like the best and then that’s it, and then I go in and do vocals. That is the process.”
Find Beth traveling on the road and listen to the new album Map & No Direction. Perhaps it can help you with your own struggle.