by Illiam Sebitz
Take one-part genius, mix it with a brilliant sense of humor and waggishness, and what do you have? Well, Joanna Weinberg of course. This vivid playwright, composer, vocalist, author and soothsayer is at it again with a brilliant offering entitled Pandora’s Bag.
Joanna Weinberg was born in London, raised in South Africa and has lived in Sydney Australia for the last 20 years. She comes from a family of classical musicians, has a drama degree from the University of Cape Town and has years of experience creating and performing theater, music, cabaret and musical theater. Her work has been performed in the U.K., Australia, Canada, South Africa and her film Goddess, starring Laura Michelle Kelly, had a worldwide release in 2012. Joanna has created 5 albums of original songs, two of which are original cast albums of her musicals.
With breast cancer awareness month being in October, I felt this was a truly fitting feminine centrist album, that puts a comical spin on the most prized possession the clutch, the bag or purse as many refer to it. You can immediately recognize Weinberg’s theater background in these tunes, but that being said; this album is certainly ripe with stellar playing by an all-female group and each musician is up the group effort of shedding the best light possible on composer Weinberg’s masterful way of crafting lyrics.
Tunes like, “Why Won’t You Let Me Die,” is based on a 95-year-old singer whom Weinberg met in a nursing home. She gave Weinberg her handbag as a keepsake in exchange for a song about her life. Weinberg in her tongue and cheek writing style, eloquently creates a fitting tribute to this cry for euthanasia. Or what could be a life crushing moment of finding another woman’s underwear in your “Laundry Bag.” Weinberg, exclaims “what to wash in the hierarchy of dirt,” my God who owns these knickers, what a flirt.” Weinberg waxes poetic on the situational destruction and humiliation of being cheated on. Trumpeter, Ellen Kirkwood adorns the track with mournful colorization’s, lending to feeling of agony in the feature character’s story.
An upbeat and uplifting “Old Bag,” finds you as the listener laughing at yourself, and feeling maybe a bit better about the aging process, and how maybe feeling good about being in your own skin is really the best approach, because let’s face it, if you can’t accept yourself, who will. It is easy to see how Weinberg has won so many awards for her work, each lyric connects to the next flawlessly, and might I add, musically. Though I have never seen Weinberg live, I can only imagine the experience in itself, that being said; for those of us that have to savor the future possibility, at least we can enjoy the recorded version, and I mean ENJOY!
Tracks to sample first: “Old Bag,” “Middle Aged Woman,” “Bag Porn,” and “Laundry Bag.” The song to take a chance on is “Why Won’t You Let Me Die.”