A Brooklyn Home Companion
Companion Companion Companion Companion—words repeated over and over gain lose meaning until the only thing left is the sound. So a band’s self-titled debut forces listeners to focus on its essence, not a specific concept. Pop music inherently, and by definition, relies on a collective audience to operate. There would be no pop music if artists didn’t have their eager companions; it’s the whole “tree-falls-in-a-forest” situation. So, if Pepi Ginsberg wanted to inform her audience as to how they should receive her new project, what better way than to welcome them into the process? Companion, at its heart, is unified—musicians plus frontwoman, one cohesive pop band.
Ginsberg has released several albums under her own name as a solo performer. Each album found specific ways to explore her vocal abilities, using instruments as backdrop, while her uniquely cool voice took the stage. This is why the name of her newest group and the ensuing record is crucial to interpreting its message. Ginsberg added Anna Thorngate and Amy Carrigan, members of the Brooklyn Women’s Choir, for heightened vocal effect. Due to the precise tone of her voice, these lovely additions fill out her sound. Adding bassist Tim Lappin, guitarist Kirk Schoenherr, and drummer Justin Veloso further augmented the vocal center, expanding the melodious, airy pop sound to rock-like levels. Check out the funky staccato guitar that opens “Homegirl.” It grows from fun and upbeat to some heavy minor chords, leading the vocals rather than following them. Clearly, Ginsberg has embraced her new pals.
“My Country, Your USA” demonstrates the power of cooperation operating within this Brooklyn unit. Schoenherr’s electric guitar introduces the hook, plucking out a catchy tune. Ginsberg follows its lead. Percussion enters next, adding weight to the light melody. Then comes a chorus of female voices, and suddenly Companion manifests itself. Whether intentional or not, the lyrics pay homage to another band of female vocalists, only the best-selling girl group Destiny’s Child, when Ginsberg sings, “Get me off the highway / Know it ain’t over till you say, say my name, say my name.” I prefer to believe that this is completely deliberate and fully expect a cover of “Survivor” on the next album.