Pauline Andrès, Americana’s Darkest Darlin’, hails from France, has Hungarian descent and currently lives in Berlin. Andrès’ debut album, All Them Ghosts, was released very recently, on October 14th in fact, with producer Jack Davis and Fran Tursi on drums. Holding true to her own, this mysterious singer/songwriter portrays loss, despair, heartbreak and more. All Them Ghosts is a story of fading memories obtained over a number of different era’s.
All Them Ghosts begins the debut album consisting of eleven songs. All Them Ghosts is not only the title of the album but of the introductory song. This is quite fitting as it paints a portrait of what is to come. The song showcases a dark portrayal of life with the opening line of the title song “I know he beat on her with his belt”. Andrès is attempting to make sense of “All Them Ghosts” she has left behind but still haunt her. Her style is Americana. For anyone who doesn’t know what this means, Americana merged from folk, country, blues and rock and roll. Strains of these factors exist in Andres’ music.
Andrès profound country singing style is carried on into Patsy Cline. Patsy Cline is of course a tribute to the legendary country singer. The overall theme of this song is how a woman can become a weak and frail shadow of her former self due to being victimized by a vicious, cold and uncaring lover. The concept is not dissimilar to All Them Ghosts.
A heavy electric guitar opening exists in “Chocolate Shoes” accompanied by drums. These factors, along with deeper vocals, make this song more classic rock & roll sounding whereas “All Them Ghosts” and “Patsy Cline” are encased in blues mixed with country and rhythm. The backing vocals we hear in various parts of “Chocolate Shoes” are those of producer Jack Davis.
As you can imagine from the title, Like In Every Country Song reverts back to a country sound. The storyteller recalls how she fell from her barstool, accompanied by feelings of foolishness, during drinking in excess in order to forget someone “I crawl home in the early hours feeling oh so blue”.
“Highway Landscape” tells the story of a lone traveller on an unknown path. Encased in mystery and intrigue, the muted hum of a car passing sets the scene for a picturesque landscape in the minds eye. A new humming sound is introduced but this time it is not of a car but of a voice. The rhythmic tune acts as a break in between lyrics. Vocals are closely interlinked with blues whereas guitar contributes to further rhythm.
“I Remember Her” begins with a punchy drum and guitar combo. It has to be said that this is one of my favourite songs off the album. A nostalgic track of childhood, “I Remember Her” launches into a gradual build of soulful vocals and melodic instrumentals. Midway through, an instrumental piece provokes a thoughtful response within the listener.
Track listings also include “Fuck You French Girl”, “Faithful Girl Blues” and “She”. It was two weeks after the recording process had begun that Pauline became very sick with the whooping cough. A nightmare for any singer, “On The Doorstep” and “Sweet Fortune Tellin’ Ma”, the last two songs off “All Them Ghosts”, are the only takes from her “sick” days that made it to the final cut. Continuous, unforeseen events, made the album a difficult challenge to finish. However, even though “All Them Ghosts” is considered “cursed”, Andrès and her team made it in the end with a commendable achievement.
Where do you hail from and what is your current location?
“I was born French in the Eastern part of the country and grew up in a miner town that was a real melting pot with many foreign communities and my family was part of that, half of it is Hungarian, the other half is so complicated I’ll just skip. So I was born there, but I can’t say it matters a lot what my passport says. I’m based in Berlin for now, it’s still rather cheap and I don’t hate all of it yet.”
I noticed some backing vocals in “Chocolate Shoes” and “Highway Landscape”. Are you a solo artist or are there a few band members?
“The backing vocals on these tracks (and on On The Doorstep too) were sung by Jack Davis, who is a solid member of the band I’ve been playing with for the past 2 years. More importantly he was the producer of the record and helped me make all these songs what they are now, he’s absolutely part of the soul of this album and he’s got this fantastic voice so it was just natural to have him sing where possible. Then there was Fran Tursi on the drums for the big majority of the tracks who was also our band drummer before he had to leave the country in rather sad circumstances in the middle of recording. We still miss him here. The other band members would come and go and I’m currently putting a new line up together.”
Is Patsy Cline one of your idols?
“Hmm, I wouldn’t say idol no. I don’t really have any but if I had to say that I’m a big fan of this or that person, I wouldn’t start with Patsy. I love her voice that goes without saying and I love many of her songs and if you walk pass by my place on a lazy Sunday there’s a good chance I’ll be listening to her. But really the song was born from this idea of how a bad relationship can turn a girl into this poor little thing that ends up singing I Fall To Pieces or She’s Got you. The thing with Patsy’s songs is that she’s always such a victim. And I sometimes have mixed feelings about that…”
How long did it take to write these 11 songs? Were they written during different era’s?
“When I started writing I didn’t think of what to do with the songs, poems or whatever these things were. So yeah, some of these songs were written when I was still quite unaware of my need to actually make music in an active way, play with a band, record and arrange them etc. I think Highway Landscapes must be the oldest, it’s about 7 years old. Maybe 8. It came to me while driving one morning, very early on a highway in the countryside. I was looking at the light and the landscapes in the different mirrors of the car. Sweet Fortune Tellin Ma I wrote when I was living in London roughly 5 years ago and I got pretty sick there. Now Fuck You French Girl, All Them Ghosts or Like In Every Country Song are more recent and were written in Berlin while playing and recording here.”
What challenges did you face while writing “All Them Ghosts” as a whole?
“Well because I didn’t sit to write these songs as part of an album (like I did for the second album which I’m currently working on) the hardest part was to make it all coherent. What brings these songs together? If nothing did then it wouldn’t have been an album and I could have just released them separately and saved myself the drama. But something did. They were all written in the shadow of this guy. The miner on the artwork. He represents everything that travelled with me since I left home and in each and every of these songs, sometimes in a rather indirect way, there is something from my personal background, my family, my hometown. And this guy, he is my hometown.”
There is no doubt our experiences shape who we are and determine the path we follow. If you could go back would you change anything that led to creating “All Them Ghosts?
“No, because as hard as the recording process was I’m proud to say we made it through. Me, the musicians who helped me, the friends that believed I’ll get there. And more importantly, the result is worth it, I genuinely think that this record is very rich and the sound is great. I don’t think it’s perfect, thank God, that’s why I’ll keep working on the next one, and then the next one with each record feeding the next one technically and musically.”
Have you recorded anything before this project?
“No, apart from demos not really. It is my debut album in the most genuine sense. Two years ago, I wasn’t sure I needed to do all these things. I didn’t know what to do with these songs pouring out of me. Now it’s the most natural thing: write, arrange, correct, record, play…”
What are the different types of melodies and instruments used in each song?
“In an effort to make the whole thing coherent even though we recorded in different spaces and over a few months due to the logistical issues we faced, we tried to make the songs echo each other with the arrangements and instruments. So you’ll find the same old banjo on Fuck You French Girl, Like In Every Country Song and All Them Ghosts for instance. The same accordion recorded the same day on Sweet Fortune Tellin’ Ma and All Them Ghosts. The same backing vox, the same Takamine acoustic guitar sound (except for a couple of songs where I used my Duke). That way we created this web of strings between the tracks. I think the guest star on the album really is Jack’s Telecaster, just listen to the slide on Patsy. It’s amazing.”
If there was one song you could say you are most proud of what would it be?
“Oh I couldn’t choose between my babies you know but in a certain way if I should be proud of one in particular then I’d say On The Doorstep. I’m proud of it because it is the only survivor of the original studio recording we did. I caught the whooping cough when we hit the studio and this is the only live take we could save and you can hear the bleeding of my voice on the acoustic guitar, it sounds like an echo, that’s the original take under the second take. It worked, we kept it. The whole album is a mix of live and tracked takes and this is a perfect example of the very specific way we did it.”
What’s next for you?
“Putting a new line up together in the coming month to start confirming tour dates and festivals to support the record is step one. I’ve also started to work on the demos for my second album, which I hope to start recording real soon. I have about 24 new songs queued up and counting so… I need to get back to work.”
“The subjects on “All Them Ghosts” may be hard for some to comprehend, but the album is thought-provoking and above all, deeply impressive. The phrase “write about what you know” never seemed so apt.”- Jen Grimble, Right Chord Music.