On her deeply moving debut album At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin writes with the clarity and wisdom of an artist well beyond her years. Immeasurable space circulates within the album's ten songs, which set Tomberlin's searching voice against lush backdrops of piano and guitar. Like Julien Baker and Sufjan Stevens, she has a knack for transforming the personal into parable. Like Grouper, she has a feel for the transcendent within the ordinary.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and now based in Louisville, Kentucky, Tomberlin wrote most of At Weddings while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties. At 16, she finished her homeschooling curriculum and went to college at a private Christian school she describes, only half-jokingly, as a "cult." By 17, she had dropped out of school, returned home, and begun to face a period of difficult transition in her life. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, Tomberlin found herself questioning not only her faith, but her identity, her purpose, and her place in the world.

"I was working, going to school, and experiencing heavy isolation," Tomberlin says of the time when she first began writing the songs on At Weddings. "It felt monotonous, like endless nothingness. It was a means to get through to the next step of life." In songwriting, Tomberlin found relief and lucidity she had trouble articulating otherwise. When she was 19, she wrote "Tornado" on her parents' piano, and began to develop confidence in her music. A year later, she had written enough songs to fill an album.


Dana has been singing since she was a child: in her room, to the radio, in choir, and during the boisterous gatherings with her Serbian family. However, she took a break from music and started focusing her attention on her love of cinema. With a father in the film industry, a painter mother and having a background in art history, cinema and film production, Dana was initially prepared to work in the film industry or academics. Yet a defining moment came when her ex-partner left her his guitar before moving to NYC. During her last year of University her attention slowly became focused on re-learning the guitar with a Travis Picking technique book and her faint muscle memory of playing Joan Baez’s ‘Diamonds and Rust’. Then, in the summer of 2016, after she took a job with her father as a producer’s assistant on a film shooting in the Laurentians, she made enough money to focus solely on music for a year.  From this came Spring Demos, released via Fox Food Records in September 2017.

Tomberlin / Dana Gavanski

24 May 2019

The Lexington

96-98 Pentonville Rd
N1 9JB



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