Deb Pasternak

(SIG 1239)

Signature Sounds
PO Box 106
Whately, MA 01093

A review written for Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Shawn Linderman

This CD was my first introduction to Deb Pasternak, and after many, many listens, my jaw is still slack in wonderment--how is it she's not a superstar already? Immensely talented, inventive, and a fearless explorer of the boundaries of sound, Pasternak has created one of the most engrossing albums I've heard this year.

She's courageous too--the first cut is the title track and my initial reaction was "these dissonant flat-minor tones aren't making a song..." except she pulls them into a a dynamite exploration of emotional desire. Major points to Pasternak and her producer Chris Rival for the audacity to put this very risky tune to the fore; challenging all to hear the masterpiece, not the notes.

Deb won me over with More alone, but here are some notes and impressions of the rest of this CD. I don't want to write in rigid sentences, as it wouldn't be appropriate to the subject matter. From impressions, you'll hear the whole:

Icewalker - more ethereal, increasing crescendo with each verse, jangling guitar; different states of matter parallel different states of love.

Eugene - almost Amerind percussive feel, layered with gentle country blues, saving a very bitter self-realization until the last line.

Walking South - funky, alternating with flat-out rock; about leaving, and your guess is as good as mine as to who might do the leaving.

Woman of Action - sweet saxophone, slow bass and tinkling piano adorn this bluesy number that actually praises, rather than laments, the fate of the protagonist.

Here in the Desert - the imagery here nicely captures what it's like to be stuck in a rut.

The Garage Song - more about the flotsam and jetsam left behind after a relationship--this time a place to store it all...

Shadow - short, softly jazzy, hallucinative...

Closer - mainstream blues underpinnings, then the treatment gets twisted completely around to more mainstream jazz/pop. This time the relationship is moving in a positive direction.

Fishing Blues - nice juxtaposition of imagery (scarecrow and ocean beach) rides mingling of jazz, country, and pop instrumentation.

Pick-axe Love Song - again the skill at off-center imagery.

Mary - tails off into an almost rock-operatic climax.

The Other Mary - slight reggae riffs support this uptone tune about a woman who made her own life on her own terms, accepting her losses and proud of her wins.

White Walls - enigmatic tune, just for journeying, destination is unimportant. Nice mix of blues, jazz and folk.

Sweet Addiction - features Deb scat-singing and focuses on her fine vocal control.

For almost a solid hour, Deb Pasternak takes you to unusual places in unusual ways. Imagine surfboarding white-water rapids. One is for riding moving water, the other IS moving water--but not the kind we associate with other. When these images are combined, they reveal interesting and unique changes of viewpoint on otherwise ordinary images. That is what Deb Pasternak's More is like in a nutshell, musically and lyrically. This one goes very high on my "Best of 1997" ballot.

Edited by Kerry Dexter (

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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