Joanna Sternberg makes music that sounds like it could come from just about any-when, songs that are intimate and vulnerable and deceptively simple in composition. With little more than a piano and some classically-indebted strings, the New York musician sings from a place of isolation and loneliness, building bridges to the outside world in the form of songs, longing for that sought-after connection. Happiness is often talked about in the past tense, or like an emotion that is so far off in the distant horizon that it feels like an impossibility.
But the takeaway from Sternberg’s debut album, is one of persistence in the face of that unfathomable gap: “I always say I’m done with trying and then I try some more,” they sing on the album’s closing track, the line where its title comes from: Then I Try Some More. On another song, they reflect on being made fun of for their appearance and turn that into a self-reminder: “You have something special, please don’t throw it away/ They will try to hurt you with the words they say.”
The open-hearted honesty on Then I Try Some More is sometimes hard to take in all at once, but Sternberg offsets that with arrangements that sound playful and inviting, soft keys and a voice that soothes in the face despite all that sadness within. “How I long to sing and laugh and love like many years ago,” they sing on one of the songs.
Then I Try Some More is out now via Team Love.