Photo: Michelle Yoon

Tomberlin enlists Told Slant to duet with her through the charming sway of “idkwntht”

Sharing her first bit of new music since 2020’s Projections EP, today, Sarah Beth Tomberlin has finally gifted us with a new one, the sensitive and hypnotic “idkwntht”, featuring guest vocals from her dear friend Felix Walworth, aka Told Slant.

“idkwntht” is short for “I Don’t Know Who Needs To Hear This” and, in this case, everyone needs to experience this track. With tender swells of saxophone coating the spaces between Tomberlin’s guitar strums and Walworth’s soft drums shuffles, this elegant song will pull you into its harmonious tide with a gentle tug, beckoning listeners to drift away in its embracing lull. 

“idkwntht” is a duet that sways back and forth with utter grace, while maintaining enough gravity to draw in all our unfettered attention toward Tomberlin and Walworth’s anticipatory words that encourage exorcising emotions, in this case, through a simple sing-song. Tomberlin opens the track with slight doubt that her words will ring true: “I don’t know who needs to hear this,” but, in this same opening verse, she quickly follows this question with earnest hope that her songs may, in fact, leave a mark, singing with a pronounced charm in her voice: “sometimes it’s good to sing your feelings / and every time I open my mouth / hope something halfway helpful falls out.”

Of the track, Sarah Beth Tomberlin says, “‘idkwntht’ is a sonic altar of sorts. It’s about taking a moment for remembrance, clarity, and setting an intention for what is to come. Kind of like a song version of writing out your intentions on a full moon. holding onto feelings, words, and past versions of ourselves and our behavior only helps when we can examine experiences once we are outside of them. then we have to let it out, let it go, and try again.

Though it’s been less than two years since we last heard from Tomberlin, the young singer-songwriter prodigy seems to have fully tapped into the heartrending potential that had always weighed in her voice, even as a fledging 22-year-old whose vocal delivery trembled with fragility on At Weddings.

If the song’s lyrics indicate what’s ahead, Tomberlin seems to be prepping listeners for a more expansive listen. Is this a primer for a new album? Well, we’ve been waiting for Tomberlin’s follow-up to At Weddings for almost five years, so we can only hope for what may lie ahead is precisely that. And if what is ahead sounds anything close to this magical duet, then we’ve got another album of the year candidate coming down the pike, ready to devastate our hearts.

Listen to “idkwntht” below or on your preferred streaming platform.

“idkwntht” is out on Saddle Creek. Make sure to follow and support Tomberlin on BandcampTwitterInstagram, and Facebook.