Occupying a musical landscape that spans from West Virginia’s underground veins of coal to the dust-blown Texas Panhandle, Pauline Andrès has inhaled the rural musical soot and smoke of the country’s past by way of Berlin, Germany, exhaling an acrid plume of Americana on her debut album, All Them Ghosts.
Like in every country song
I’m trying hard to forget you
I crawl home in the early hours
Feeling oh so blue
Playing with country tropes and genre touch points, Andrès lays them on thick with “Like in Every Country Song” and the warped love story of single “Patsy Cline,” a cinematic ode to its title’s country matriarch. Andrès ends the Dust Bowl shuffle of “Chocolate Shoes” with a rising warble, her gravel-throated growl smoothed over, the liquor’s sting sweetening her delivery only briefly — a fleeting moment, yet one of absolute beauty.
Turn your back on me
And your whole world will turn grey
Taking no prisoners, Andrès affects an outlaw stance on the pulsing, earth-hardened tale, “She.” Limiting regret and internal conflict to the pedigree lament of “I Remember Her,” the libidinous “Faithful Girl Blues” and dusty album closer, “Sweet Fortune Tellin’ Ma,” All Them Ghosts‘ aesthetic is best defined on the weeping, laudenum-haze of “On the Doorstep.”
A studied, literate debut filled with truths, half-lies and possible falsehoods, Andrès’ All Them Ghosts is a whiskey-shined diamond in the rough. Any more polish would buff away its lustrous flaws.
Stream All Them Ghosts below and purchase via iTunes.