by Joseph Purcell
“These things that I make could be called ‘songs’ (but they don’t have to be!) They are about my ‘feelings’. I have a FEELING that we all have the same set of feelings,” writes Joanna Sternberg on their Bandcamp bio. Sternberg has channelled this relatable nature throughout debut record, Then I Try Some More, aacing together in an elegant fashion songs and feelings that many will identify with and cherish.
From the haunting stream of This Is Not Who I Want to Be, Joanna Sternberg lays bare their inner doubts, thoughts and demons on a majestic and emotionally tumultuous opener. Sternberg bravely presents suicidal ideas and struggles with addiction and abuse at the hands of others. Step Away displays a relationship wracked with anxiety and insecurities; Sternberg convincing themselves it’s better to step away as they couldn’t possibly deserve the equality a relationship should bring.
Recorded with a raw, often hollow quality, the stripped back nature of the recordings add to the feeling of unfiltered, untouched lyrics- the record assuming a feeling of direct conversation with Sternberg. It’s intimate and intense, but not overpowering and the enchanting For You evokes the finest moments of The Moldy Peaches. Before the beautiful piano-centric delicacy of You Have Something Special floats by – again smattered with the painful reflections of Sternberg’s past: ‘They called me ugly and they made me feel so unworthy’.
Then I Try Some More is a remarkable debut from Joanna Sternberg. Their willingness to discuss the most harrowing experiences gives the album a raw, cathartic quality that permeates throughout. At times, it is an uncomfortable listen, yet this raw fragility is what truly connects. Instead of being defined by the trauma, Joanna Sternberg has channelled it into a brave record, and one that has a familiarity to the feelings that we all experience.
Secret Meeting score: 80