Joanna Weinberg, Pandora’s Bag

by Constance Tucker

Joanna Weinberg has an ear for the unusual and wit that is rare. Her lyrics and mastery of words is simply dazzling.  Weinberg’s latest project, Pandora’s Bag is no exception. Weinberg has crafted ten songs that examine the “female bag.” The bag is examined as a metaphor for all things female and explored as adornment, a status symbol and a keeper of memories.  Ladies you will certainly appreciate this sentiment. Weinberg composed the music, lyrics and plays piano and sings.  She enlisted an all-girl jazz band to help her with the project consisting of: Ellen Kirkwood on trumpet, Kate Adams on cello and Nicola Ossher on drums, balofon and percussion. The harmonies are worthy of the Andrews Sisters and the humor is as clever as Noel Coward.

“Pandora’s Bag” is an especially delightful number. Weinberg plays a beautifully arpeggiated figure with the melody on piano for an intro. Her robust whole-hearted singing conveys the melody, and her tongue and cheek style lends a hint of innocence and daydreams and a  bit of the mysterious, before Pandora’s secrets are revealed. The B section of the tune has radiant vocal harmonies and an interlude that both adds to the overall form and contains illuminated additional vocal harmonies.

Weinberg lightens things up with, well even more, with “Old Bag,” a hilarious observation of growing older as a woman in today’s youth obsessed society. The vocal harmonies are wonderful, in tune and blended excellently for a full-figured result. Kirkwood’s trumpet adds just the right color in the melodic playground. Adams cello is full and when Weinberg and Adams play the melody in unison, both have outstanding pitch and immediate connecting chemistry.  Their playing is quite conversational, like a boundless chat with a long-time friend.

“Middle Aged Women on Ships” is a comical tune about women going cruising for more than just scenery. Ossher’s marching drum pattern adds to the festivities, as does, the accordion sound and Kirkwood’s trumpet. Weinberg’s vocal style is always impeccable, I simply have never known a writer or vocalist that conveys with more conviction and panache than Weinberg. I love the way she sings with clear diction and pronunciation. Even though most of the lyrics are satirical or comical in nature, her vocal presentation is always impeccable, heartfelt and most of all believable, no matter the lyric.

It is wonderful to hear a new release by Weinberg, her talents are rare, and the band of merry-maids joining her on this outing is simply put, unimpeachable!  Brava Joanna, Brava!

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