“To me, this EP is a continuation of a journey. My second project was largely an account of just coming out of a storm. I had survived, I knew things were going to get better, but there was some healing and processing to be done. As time passed, and I did the work to heal, I emerged into a new place. I realized that surviving the storm wasn’t enough. I realized I was put on this Earth to do more than survive.”
Beth Snapp is describing her new EP, tellingly titled Don’t Apologize. A collection of soothing and supple melodies, underscored by a bracing backing band, it offers astute observations about the challenges, expectations and ability to overcome obstacles — either self-imposed or those that result from outside interference. It’s a personal tale gleaned from lessons learned, from a need to face those realities and cope with them accordingly. Snapp delivers these songs with clarity and conviction, sharing universal truths that can resonate with us all.
Produced and mixed by Gar Ragland, engineered by Julian Dreyer, and recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, North Carolina, Don’t Apologize features a stunning array of guest contributors, including celebrated cello player and pianist Dave Eggar, guitarist Phil Faconti, Black Lillies frontman Cruz Contreras, and her band mates Jason Crawford (banjo, Mandolin), Jay Farmer (upright bass) , Kevin Jackson (fiddle) , and Justin Short (drums).
Indeed, the song titles are as revealing as the expressive melodies themselves, a sequence of sound that reaches from the comforting caress of the title track, the mellow musings pervading “Princess Dream” and the restful, reassuring “Counting Down,” to the jauntily paced “Little Much,” the banjo ramble of “Easy to Love,” the upbeat urgency of “Scream” and the easy but unapologetic “Confessions of an Exhausted Thirty-Something.” It’s a set of songs that run through a gamut of emotions, doing so with both vibrancy and vulnerability.
“I wrote a collection of songs to remind me, but also those around me, that it is perfectly acceptable to not apologize for loving yourself as the imperfectly perfect soul that you are,” Snapp says. “It is acceptable — no, imperative — to be proud of yourself and what you’ve worked for. It is important to not be ashamed for putting yourself out there for any reason – be it reaching out to another person, trying something new, doing hard things, or simply being yourself.”
This is nothing new as far as Snapp’s concerned. That astute awareness is part of her DNA. As a child, she felt well connected to the Appalachian environs where she was raised. Notably, most members of her family hailed from the area of Southwest Virginia that the Carter Family once called home. Her mother, aunt and cousin sang together in a gospel trio, leaving her with an indelible impression and a determined desire to sing. By the time she was in high school, she was performing regularly at her church, at weddings and even at funerals. By the time she was completing her graduate studies, she was ready to venture out on her own and begin offering her original compositions.
“I met some fantastic bluegrass players and songwriters that took me under their wing and gave me advice on how to develop my craft,” she recalls. “I feel like I’m a bit of a late bloomer in some ways, but I’m working hard to be as quick of a study as possible.”
Clearly, she’s succeeded. Her debut album, 2014‘s That Girl in the Magazine featured contributions from Dave Eggar, Tim Stafford, Rob Ickes, and Trey Hensley as well the Stafford’s bluegrass band Blue Highway. Her sophomore set, Write Your Name Down, was released in 2017 and introduced the song “Grime and Grace,” which brought her honors that year as a semifinalist in the prestigious New Song Songwriting Competition. It also gave her entry to open for such singular artists as Iris Dement, Scott Miller, Jill Andrews, Cruz Contreras and Dave Eggar, as well as make a series of guest appearances on albums by Eggar, Stafford and Blue Highway.
Ultimately, it earned her continued kudos from those who found themselves enticed by her unerringly accessible fusion of folk, bluegrass, roots and pure pop. Leah Ross, Executive Director of the ever-popular Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion festival, described her as a “local jewel.” Tim Stafford insists that of all the artists coming out of East Tennessee in the past two decades, “Beth is easily the most original and talented.”
Tom Netherland, writing in the Bristol Herald,” declared, “Beth Snapp sings like a cage-less bird flies. Freedom waves in her delivery of lyrics, upon the wings of which glide distinction and the boundless glory of a soul undeniable.”
Those are heady praises, but Snapp remains modest. “I feel like my career is just beginning,” she confesses. “I’ve laid some groundwork, but now I’m at a jumping off point, and it’s time to jump.”
Jump she has. With Don’t Apologize, Snapp has taken an enormous leap forward and landed safely, with her talent obvious and intact.