Published Jul 10, 2019For a debut, Joanna Sternberg's Then I Try Some More conceals no raw nerves — everything is placed on the line.
The artist has been creating music and art (though, according to their bio, Sternberg does not care for labelling music as music, nor art as art) since they were a child. For Then I Try Some More, Sternberg signed with Conor Oberst's Team Love Records, and has an upcoming tour with the Bright Eyes and Better Oblivion Community Center virtuoso. It's a strong match: Sternberg's songwriting carries a biting candidness that fans of Oberst will enjoy.
Listening to Joanna Sternberg is like listening to a close friend confess insecurities and experiences. Trust feels implicit, as Sternberg's gentle vocals reach out for connection. Lyrics like "Anyone who's watching knows you're too beautiful for me" (From "Step Away") and the self-awareness of "You Have Something Special" — on which Sternberg imparts "I've been singing sad songs too. I've been hurting just like you" — dive into the complexity of longing. Sternberg plays all the instruments on the record, furthering the sense that what you are experiencing is diaristic, working to fight loneliness.
The majority of the songs on Then I Try Some More are melancholic, with a strong dose of self-deprecation. The lyrics, though deep, play on the surface above piano and guitar melodies. "My Angel" is a piano tune about wanting someone back, with repetition and held notes, while "Don't You Ever" finds a more complex and folky guitar pattern to help Sternberg make sure the listener does not feel alone. There is power in the intricacies.
By the conclusion, the record leaves you feeling as though you have experienced something intimate and infinitely human. Joanna Sternberg opens up a chest of emotion, crafting a bittersweet debut that will have sensitive listeners feeling as though they have someone in their corner. (Team Love)