Joanna Barbera is back with a new EP of powerful, prose-filled songs influenced by her unlikely journey to music. Self-released after a successful PledgeMusic campaign, the new EP IMAGO showcases Joanna’s growth through her move from her safe stronghold of Austin, TX, to the burgeoning indie scene in Nashville, TN. Titled from the process of idealizing an image of a loved one, especially a child thinking of a parent, the album explores transforming relationships, false images of admirers, and projecting long-held feelings and needs onto lovers.
As long as Joanna has been writing music, her obsession with everything ethereal and the divine has shown through. From religious studies and yoga to shamanism and energy-healing, her interests influence her songs, asking big questions about relationships and one’s place in the world.
During her college years, Joanna put music on pause for five years to focus on personal learning and growth with a spiritual group in Arizona, eschewing the traditional Arizona State University party undergraduate scene for the deep spirituality of the desert with yoga, meditation, and metaphysics. Her path focused on self-discovery and tapping into intangible forces, which for Joanna, would include coming back to her songwriting again, especially after the death of her father. Joanna’s experiences has been woven into her music, evident on “When the Rain Comes,” a winding track featuring a wiser Joanna speaking to a younger self, asking “do you remember what it was that you said you wanted? I haven’t forgotten, but it’s not mine to hold.”
Some might say all songs are really love songs, but for Joanna, it’s the transformation of a relationship that wields the best writing. “Wake Up” chronicles her changing relationship with her mother, while “Armor” toys with the terrifying thought of opening oneself up to accept real love.
Encouraged by friend and mentor Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Patty Griffin, Heartless Bastards), Joanna moved to Nashville, signing with Dualtone's licensing department. She’s flourished in the growing Nashville indie and anything-but-major-label-country scene, playing well-respected local venues such as the historic Basement, 5 Spot, and the High Watt, and touring nationally. She also hosts a monthly showcase highlighting women singers and songwriters around town, with proceeds going to Thistle Farms, a local charity benefiting survivors of addition, abuse, and sex trafficking.
Born in Hudson Valley, NY, Joanna meandered through San Francisco, Maui, London and Arizona, before settling in Austin. While in Texas, she independently produced and released two albums, 2009’s Carnival Beginning and 2013’s Forget. She’s shared the stage with the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Mindy Smith and Melissa Ferrick. Her songs have been featured on Austin NPR affiliate radio station KUTX, on TV shows on MTV and NBC, and internationally on Poland’s hit soap opera Na Wspólnej.