Attorney and conga performer Linette Tobin has a unique way of expressing her worldview. Tobin’s new album “Pangea” is a series of songs that makes good use of her chosen instrument, congas, and provides a setting for songs that focus on both global and personal concerns.
Like any successful artist, Tobin is able to make even the personal universal. On “Pangea,” she tackles discord among women, breakups, refugees, and the pain of watching a beloved relative die. Most of those topics are known to adult audiences. Tobin approaches them not from the standpoint that no one else has experienced those things, but she put her expressive spin on each song and its subsequent topic.
About Linette Tobin
What is interesting about Tobin is that she has managed to continue her work as an attorney, championing the rights of immigrants, while fashioning her work as a musician. Her work as a performer also focuses on the concept that diversity is a strength.
Tobin is based in the Washington D.C. area where she has practiced her law specialty for more 25 years. Her daily life is almost like that of a modern day superhero – – by day, she advocates for immigrants’ rights, and at night, she plays music to express herself.
Tobin’s professional music experience began in 2014 when she formed the group Sin Frontera. The group lasted until 2015. Despite the short tenure of the group, they were able to play the Atlas Theater, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in Cape May, New Jersey.
When she formed Pangea, Tobin selected musicians from various parts of the world for their specific skillsets and subsequent contribution to the group’s sound.
Tobin has experience playing in Afro-Cuban groups, in addition to jazz and funk groups.
Tobin’s primary instrument is the congas. She has traveled extensively in Cuba and Africa to experience different rhythms and learn about their origins. Tobin’s unique approach involves taking a rhythm’s folkloric or traditional themes and applying them to more contemporary styles such as jazz and fusion. She has earned praise for using her congas as melodic instruments. The songs on “The Shape of the New World” are stylistically in the World Music genre.
The sound of Linette Tobin’s Pangea
The album “The New Shape of the World” is vibrant. In a musical landscape full of ensembles with guitars and basses and drums, a group that puts congas at the fore of its sound is unusual. More importantly is the way Tobin addresses women’s issues on the title track. The vibrancy of the song engages listeners, which encourages them to hear the lyrics, which are probably the most dynamic feature of the song.
Through the lyrics, Tobin encourages women to put away their superficial differences to focus on larger goals. It sounds simple, but Tobin’s approach makes it sound as if such is actually possible. In short, the song offers hope.
With “The New Shape of the World,” Tobin and her assembled players bring hope and a new style of world music to audiences. A brief debut album, it is worth listening to over and over.