by Shannon Smith
Linette Tobin’s Pangaea: The New Shape of the World Review
The name “Pangaea/Pangea” is derived from Ancient Greek pan (πᾶν, “all, entire, whole”) and Gaia (Γαῖα, “Mother Earth, land”). The concept that the continents once formed a contiguous land mass was first proposed by Alfred Wegener. Conceptually the idea I felt behind Linette Tobin’s Pangaea was the idea of unification. Bringing together different musicians from different parts of the world for a beautiful amalgamation of sound on The New Shape of the World. The album features a variety of songs with influences from the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. The groups debut release features seven original tunes, reflecting the beautiful diversity of each tune and each musician.
The title track “The New Shape of the World,” The instrumentation features expert performances, with Tobin providing percussion and the lead vocal. On bass Etu Dieng, on guitar Nathan Okite, the saxophone is handled by Antonio Orta, and the backing vocals by AnaMer Castrello. The tune offers a folksy West African vibe. The lyrics are thematically a song about change, empowerment through unity, particularly for women. The group is heartfelt in their treatment of the melody allowing Tobin to shine brightly as the lead vocalist. Her rhythmic sensibility is strong, which I might add its rate to see a female musician in the role of conga, but refreshingly so. Her touch is enlivened as she has a melodic sensitivity in her approach that allows the congas to deepen in their responsiveness.
“True Gratitude,” has a fun and festive feel, the smooth stylings of saxophonist Orta add an effervescence to the track. The tracks title is a praise of relief. Feeling grateful after a bad breakup and the clarity that comes through the realization of gratitude and the relief of letting go of toxicity. Once gain the group is supportive of the vocals rhythmically and dynamically. On this tune keyboardist Didier Prossaird creates a flowing melody under Tobin. Bassist, Steven Sachse lays down a solid thumping rhythm as Tobin espouses a confessional portrayal of a hurtful relationship and the healing process through gratitude.
The New Shape of the World is a Phantasmagoria of stories, styles and transcendent emotions. Each song offers a truth to it, an earnest honesty that rings true. What struck me most about this project is its humanness, something we need much more of in these trying times.