Joanna Sternberg: “I’ve Got Me”

Joanna Sternberg song is like your messiest internal monologue put to the page—raw and self-aware, warring honestly between betterment and pessimism. On 2019’s Then I Try Some More, the New York singer-songwriter sang frankly about addiction, depression, and loneliness, situating themself in the lineage of The Moldy Peaches and Daniel Johnston and winning a tour invite from Conor Oberst. Now they’re returning with a second album, the Matt Sweeney-produced I’ve Got Me. With only an acoustic guitar, double bass, and the winding curves of Sternberg’s voice, the title track “I’ve Got Me” has the immediacy and warmth of a living room performance, letting the songwriter’s matter-of-fact lyricism shine as they sit with their neuroses. “Between self hatred and self awareness/Is a very small thin line,” they sing, as candid and conversational as ever. “I waste so much time, I mean it,” they add, “So much time.” By the track’s climax, Sternberg moves from a whisper to a bellow, announcing a plan to set their own self-deprecation aflame; it feels like they’re finding their confidence in real-time.