Deb Pasternak
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Deb Pasternak


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The best kept secret in music


Combine the bohemian folk-jazz leanings of Rickie Lee Jones, the shimmering melodicism of Jonatha Brooke and the raw gutsy blues of Rory Block, and you get a rough approximation of where Deb Pasternak is coming from. As for where she's going, that's most definitely uncharted territory. Rarely has an artist come along boasting such a wide-ranging abundant arsenal of vocal, instrumental and compositional talents, and an instinctive command of different styles, with the ability to integrate them into a seamless whole, making it all mesh with a dynamic, winning personality....

Seth Rogovoy - Berkshire Eagle

"The air is hot and electric" went a lyric at one point during Deb Pasternak's torrid, fiery performance at Club Helsinki on Thursday night. Pasternak's voice itself crackled with electricity when she delivered the line, an apt metaphor or description of the atmosphere she evoked throughout her intimate, emotional show. Backed by her three-piece band, led by producer/guitarist Chris Rival, Pasternak was more moody, acoustic rocker than sensitive singer-songwriter, although she is more often grouped in with the latter than the former. But when she stretches out, lets loose with her voice and indulges her passions as she often did on Thursday night, she is unbeatable. Pasternak was the missing link between Neil Young-by-way-of-Nirvana grunge and Bonnie Raitt-like blues mama. Toss in a bit of moody Velvet Underground and the jazzy, Jimi Hendrix-like riff-rock of her song, "Jack," about a bad hair day, and you get a broader picture of the territory Pasternak mines. In other hands, Pasternak's songs, many of which deal with emotional and romantic trouble, might seem suffocatingly self-referential and self-pitying. But Pasternak brings enough punk attitude, tough-girl cynicism and self-deprecating humor that she avoids all of the pitfalls and potholes that are strewn in this well-worn path. Pasternak wasn't without her pop pleasures, either. On "Sweet Addiction," she tossed in some genuine jazz scat-singing, and not the ersatz, "shoo-be-do" kind of stuff that too often passes for the real thing. And "Closer" was a bit of Sting-like jazz-pop which avoided being cloying by embracing dissonance and spitting it out. Pasternak is a seductive performer, alternately purring like a hurt kitten and ranting at personal injustice with trumpet-like blasts of soprano vocals. Upbeat, mainstream rock songs bumped up against jazzy ballads, and darkness clashed with light, leading to those electric sparks alluded to earlier. Pasternak's band, including electric bass and drums, was tight enough to kick things into gear but loose enough to keep them swinging and close to the garage where her heart seems to want to go. Indeed, she even sang a number called "The Garage Song," in which judging from her sly tone and body language automobiles and the spaces they occupied weren't always what they seemed to be. - Berkshire Eagle

Deb Pasternak is shaking up the music industry with her wit, sophistication and unique delivery as a performer. She has stretched the boundaries of the singer/songwriter genre to include such varied musical offerings as jazz and be-bop. - Martha Schuyler Thompson

"On 'Home' the group has found an edge that Rolling Stones fans wish Mic and Company would embrace again. ÊWhere Jagger/Richards have refined and homogenized their studio recordings in the 90's and the new millenium, Deb Pasternak makes it clean enough to be presentable, but raw enough to keep your attention."
- Joe Viglione,

"A bit sassy. Fervently honest. Deb gets down to the nitty-gritty of life
with warmth and compassion. "Home" has been very well received by our
Rebecca Goldsmith -

- Radio Paradise

"Deb Pasternak is an original....has her own point of view and a sure-fire way to express it. Her songwriting is wry and confident, her singing is blistering, and her band is a tight as a taut rubberband....[Home is] a highly enjoyable effort by a talented songwriter who knows how to speak her mind." -Dirty Linen, December '03/January '04

- Dirty Linen


Home, 2003 Self-produced cd
Eleven: 2000 Self-Released cd
Demo: 1998 Self-Released, 4 Song cd
More: 1997 Signature Sounds cd
Trust Me, IÕm Soulful: 1994 Self-Released cd
partial compilation list:
Nemo/BMA Compilation, 2003 Boston
Wildfire Compilation, 2000 San Francisco
Respond, 1998 Signature Sounds
Performing Songwriter Best DIY, 1997
This is Boston not Austin, Black Wolf Records, 1995


Feeling a bit camera shy


In today's music business, where qualities like originality or raw emotion have become part of marketing rhetoric - it is often difficult to discern from reviews and buzz, the artists who might truly be speaking a unique language. Deb Pasternak, a self-professed student and observer of our society is one such artist. She watches reads and listens to the world in which she lives - from Oprah to Neil Young, from Buffy to baseball. Her portrayal of life experience - through lyrics and music that are both "pop and deep" - creates a powerful cultural reflection for the listener.

On her new cd, "Home," Pasternak takes much of the common human experience - facing fear or loss and love - and creates a cultural space to feel these emotions deeply. Pasternak writes across styles - giving nods to pop, folk, country, jazz and even grunge - as if to use the genre skipping to further denote the universality of the everywoman voice with which she sings.

Raised in New England, Pasternak was not formally trained as a musician, although her earliest memories include singing, and she spent years in the children's church choir. She started playing guitar and singing songs mainly as an outlet during her youth, due to the fact that rheumatoid arthritis kept her unable to participate in sports. She entertained friends at parties and eventually started playing cover gigs, mainly to pick up relatively easy money in the summertime during college. She didn't consider music as a profession until later when the severity of her arthritis stymied other plans for a physically active life, and this emotional outlet became career path.

Pasternak has been in the music scene since the mid-90's when she first started catching the ears of critics and industry insiders, playing prestigious conferences, being nominated for and winning awards and garnering national press acclamation. Still, in a world defined by format radio and genre partitioned music stores, Pasternak's continual refusal to fit into a genre box or produce flavor of the day cds has resulted in a career with a more windy path than one might expect.

The long climb is due, in part, to Pasternak's own hiatus from the business of music - following the events of September 11. Pasternak was motivated to get involved in democracy, organizing politically within her community. Understanding that personal empowerment emerges through self-acceptance, Pasternak believes that shame, guilt and fear are powerful contributors to a sense of inadequacy and hopelessness. By articulating the emotions of facing the darker sides of ourselves, Pasternak's music serves to help inspire an individual's self-empowerment and engagement. While this may be the underpinning of her music, Pasternak's nightingale vocals merged with her brilliant lyricism and musicality are the gem that grabs the listener. "Out there lies a landscape of people just like meÉ each chases his own passion, like a child climbs a treeÉ"

In recording "Home," Pasternak invited her live band into the studio for three days - then taught them the eleven songs there on the spot - and the resulting arrangements are energetic, fresh and spare. Although many of the songs do have overdubs - backing vocals on the three "singles," - Home, The Race and The Road, most of what you hear - from Deb's vocals to all of Tom West's keys are the original session tracks. What is amazing about the band on this album is their versatility - going from a 40's jazz ballad No Need to Venture Outside to the reckless rock of The Road.

Pasternak has spent the past ten years lovingly developing her craft - producing cds that consistently have major label quality production and honing a live performance which has now earned her the status as the "stealth bomber" of unknown acts. Pasternak is a performer and writer who simply keeps broadening her artistic palette. "Home," with its simple and spacious production, should serve to further advance Deb Pasternak's career, turning even more people onto this very pop and very deep artist.