Deb Pasternak,
(self-produced, 2003)

Singer-songwriter Deb Pasternak has been a fixture on the Boston folk scene for quite a while. On Home, her fourth album, she plays with different settings for her songs. Some are out-and-out rock ("Room in Heaven"), while "No Need to Venture Outside" is a smooth jazz tune. There's even a tinge of gospel on "Stay." Pasternak wrote all of the songs here ("Home" was written with Chris Rival) and she is backed by players from the Boston scene, such as Rival, Tom West, Richard Gates, Tony Sumbery and Brian David Rothwell.

The main theme of this disc is the pursuit of love -- sometimes successful, sometimes not. Pasternak often gives a positive spin to her songs. To those who might find this somewhat unrealistic, she says, "I can see from your eyes that you think he's too good to be true/But this song that I sing's about me and not about you" (in "Can Be"). "Home" looks at the beginning of a new relationship in optimistic terms while acknowledging the trepidation that can occur at such a beginning. "The Race" is an affirmation of loyalty.

The other side of love is also well represented. "Still Want More" is self-explanatory and it is followed up by the also self-explanatory "It's All Over." Pasternak enlivens these essays on tried-and-true themes with interesting lyrical twists, and her voice has a slight rough edge that makes the songs more convincing. However, listeners who like their love songs leavened with other subject matter may find Home tough going. I have to admit that, although this CD didn't captivate me on first listen, I found the songs growing on me with repeated playings. "No Need to Venture Outside" is a winner that sounds almost like a long-forgotten standard.

Deb Pasternak is a songwriter well worth hearing and Home does a good job of presenting her music.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 14 February 2004

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