Reviews

Joanna Sternberg “I’ve Got Me” Album Review

I’ve Got Me

Joanna Sternberg

  • Genre:  Folk/Country
  • Date: 30 Jun 2023
  • Content: Clean
  • Region: Worldwide
  • Track(s): 12
  • ℗ 2023 Fat Possum Records

Joanna Sternberg &Quot;I’ve Got Me&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 27, 2024

Joanna Sternberg, an American musician, released her second studio album titled “I’ve Got Me” on 30 Jun 2023, under Fat Possum Records, with Matt Sweeney as the producer. Before the album’s release, the title track was made available.

As time progresses, the musical arrangements created by the band become increasingly intricate and complex. Although the album was primarily composed by Sternberg, the addition of Matt Sweeney as the producer was instrumental in enhancing the overall quality of the project. According to a recent interview with Sternberg, she acknowledged the valuable contribution made by Sweeney to the album’s success.

“I’ve been secretly saving these songs, hoping for something like this; this is an album in the sense of, ‘I finally get to do this! This is my dream come true, and I’m doing it; this is me!”

Album Art

Joanna Sternberg &Quot;I’ve Got Me&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 27, 2024

The album artwork is a stunning display of vibrant colours and emotive imagery, rendered whimsically and almost cartoonish. It features a woman engrossed in her creative process, burning the midnight oil as she pens lyrics and melodies in the stillness of her solitude. The artwork is replete with intricate details that collectively convey the themes and motifs explored throughout the album. Upon closer inspection, one can discern the many toys and devices surrounding the central figure, each serving as a poignant symbol of the various emotions and experiences woven into the fabric of the album’s narrative.

Tracks And Features

The album’s opening track stands out as a favourite – “I’ve Got Me” – where Sternberg expresses regret about their current self but acknowledges the possibility for growth. The following year, Sternberg returned to their family home just before the pandemic hit and remained there.

Sternberg was raised in Manhattan Plaza, a federally subsidized complex surrounded by diverse musicians and creatives. Sternberg hails from a family of artists with an impressive lineage that includes a Metropolitan Opera performer and a renowned figure in Yiddish theatre, as noted in their recent New Yorker profile. This rich history has influenced Sternberg’s music, as evidenced in their sophomore album, “I’ve Got Me,” which reflects a deep appreciation and respect for their artistic legacy.

As a talented musician, Sternberg has found their niche in plucky singer-songwriter tunes. After experimenting with classical and jazz genres, they have landed on a sound reminiscent of other quirky and unconventional New York musicians, such as Regina Spektor and the Moldy Peaches from the anti-folk era. Their music also captures the soothing melodies of Connie Converse and the ambience of the city’s smoky clubs and music halls. What makes Sternberg’s music stand out is its unique yet relatable quality.

It is timeless and exceptional, resonating with listeners because it remains true to the human experience, even as the world changes. Although their lyrics focus on life’s less-than-sweet aspects, Sternberg’s music remains earnest and sweet, offering a refreshing perspective on the world.

“Mountains High” is a beautiful piano melody encouraging us to keep pushing forward even when faced with daunting challenges. The song’s powerful choruses fill listeners with hope and motivation, while its gentle verses tug at their heartstrings and remind them of the importance of resilience.

The album “I’ve Got Me” beautifully weaves in the artist’s struggles with addiction and mental health. One of its standout tracks, “Stockholm Syndrome,” depicts a relationship that is difficult to define and has blurred boundaries. The lyrics describe the routine of getting drunk every night and going home together, only to have a cockroach crawl up the protagonist’s arm when the lights are turned off.

In the song “Drifting On A Cloud,” Sternberg turned to medication to stabilize their emotions. The lyrics reflect their struggle with mood swings and a desire to hide their true feelings. In “People Are Just Toys To You,” Sternberg expresses frustration with being manipulated and allowing themselves to be taken advantage of. They blame all parties involved, calling out those who acted out of pity and treating them like charity.

Despite the challenges faced, perseverance shines through. Sternberg expresses an unwavering sense of happiness on the title track: “I wake up with myself in the morning, I go to bed with myself at night. I don’t need anyone else because I have myself!” It is noteworthy that both of Sternberg’s albums are named after self-affirming statements: “Then I Try Some More” and “I’ve Got Me”, serving as reminders that the world is not always hostile or solitary.

As listeners approach the end of the musical voyage, all attention is drawn to “The Song”, as Joanna uses her exquisite vocal talents to convey a powerful emotional message of love. Once again, we are spellbound by their incredible ability to capture the essence of human emotion through music.

Tracklist

NO

TITLE

TIME

1 I’ve Got Me 2:16
2 I Will Be with You 2:14
3 People Are Toys to You 2:43
4 Drifting on a Cloud 2:35
5 Mountains High 2:59
6 I’ll Make You Mine 3:08
7 Stockholm Syndrome 2:29
8 Right Here 2:11
9 The Love I Give 2:05
10 She Dreams 3:29
11 The Human Magnet Song 1:45
12 The Song 4:40

Album Summary

As a songwriter, it’s essential to be honest and specific with your music, and Joanna Sternberg embodies both qualities effortlessly. Their vulnerable and tender songs are a personal chronicle that strikes a chord with listeners. Sternberg touches on heartbreak, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, and misunderstood. However, their music reminds us of the shared human experience, even in our unique differences. Their music is a part of a rich lineage that extends beyond themselves and their latest album, “I’ve Got Me”, leaving us informed and humbled by the depth of their art.

The album “I’ve Got Me” has a cosy feel, evident in the self-portrait on the cover, which depicts Sternberg amidst a clutter of objects that create a sense of comfort despite being slightly chaotic. However, the album is also quite ambitious, as evidenced by the collision of piano keys with snaking guitars that blend perfectly with Sternberg’s voice, which was playfully likened to a Muppet in a New Yorker profile. But it is the voice that indeed carries the songs, with its soft and tender quality, that is also imbued with a raw, emotional quality that is quintessentially New York.

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