The transition into early adulthood isn't always the smoothest, and it comes with plenty of obstacles, from the process of self-discovery and finding your place in the world, to navigating through the tangled world of adult love, and accepting the heartache and disappointment that comes with the risk of allowing yourself to open up to someone else. For someone like Sarah Beth Tomberlin, recording under the mononym of Tomberlin, that transition came with the added difficulty of experiencing loss in her faith at a time when having something to hold onto was especially important.

Having grown up homeschooled in a strict Baptist household that mostly kept her insulated from the outside world, she left home at 16 to attend college at a private Christian school she describes half-jokingly as a "cult" only to drop out a year later and return home. Facing a difficult transitional phase in her life, she began questioning her faith, her identity, and her purpose and looked to music to fill the void left by the only thing she knew in life and to cope with a childhood spent in near isolation.

Most of the songs from her debut At Weddings were written while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties, and they chart the process of untangling herself from her childhood and struggling to fit in the world around her. Not surprisingly, many of the reoccurring themes revolve around self-doubt, insecurities, and the need for acceptance and the fear that comes with taking chances.

"I just don't trust people who like me/After you leave my house/I'm already in doubt/I am convinced/That I am some kind of cloud/Of disease" she sings on 'Untitled 2" and it's a safe bet that kind of guilt and self-loathing is at least partly a result of her religious upbringing. 'You Are Here' is a plea for patience and understanding in a relationship that's falling apart, and on 'Seventeen' she comes to the conclusion that "Love is mostly war/And love what is it for?"

The emotionally wrenching centerpiece 'I'm Not Scared' (something we often say to ourselves when facing difficult situations) confronts the crushing anxiety that comes from learning to open up and trust again after experiencing abuse: "I’m not scared of you this time/And when you pick up the phone I’ll stay on the line/And I’ll do more than breathe this time/And I’ll let you in at least I’m gonna try."

For an album touching on such emotionally complex themes, At Weddings thrives on simplicity. With the exception of the occasional cello, the bursting of feedback on 'Self-Help' or the ripples of white noise on 'Tornado,' the arrangements mainly consist of piano and Tomberlin's plucked acoustic. But considering how powerful her voice is, and how much emotional depth it's capable of conveying, it could just as easily be considered another instrument itself.

It's one she uses most effectively on 'Untitled 1' where her voice hovers in a haunting way over gently fingerpicked guitars before giving way to an aching cry of "But I love you" that's enough to leave a knot in your stomach. It can be heartbreaking at times, but At Weddings doesn't allow itself to wallow. If anything, it's Tomberlin sharing with us her own form of catharsis, a collection of intimate and powerful songs that sift through life's more disappointing and challenging moments to find the beauty we sometimes overlook.