Pauline Andrès has experienced a handful of geographies in her lifetime, having moved from London to Berlin and then from Paris to New York before finally settling in Nashville. And across these various continental shifts, she began the process of exploring her own unique take on Americana, wandering through aspects of traditional arrangements while also adding something a bit more modern in her approach. Her last record, 2019’s Hoping for the Best (At the Springwater Supper Club), was a vivid look at broken hearts, emotional entanglements, and the comforts of a dark dive bar. Wrapped in clouds of cigarette smoke and the smell of cheap alcohol, it was a record made for forgetting and then remembering terrible things while still hoping that everything will turn out alright.
Like so many other people this year, Andrès has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its horrible weight on our collective hearts – but she also had to deal with the destruction of her Nashville neighborhood due to an historically violent tornado that ripped through the state weeks before the shutdowns started. She took refuge in a studio owned by some of her friends, and it was here that the framework of her forthcoming EP Tornado Season would be built.
She explains her response to these disasters: “I never thought the world was ending. I know a world is ending, which is the very definition of an apocalypse. That process started years ago. It’s gonna take a few more but we are obviously in the middle of it. I don’t know how exactly this will continue to manifest. But I’ve decided to be cool with it, to keep making art, and believing in the absolute, almost absurd power of love and music”.
To give us a glimpse into the world of Tornado Season, Andrès has shared the collection’s first single, “Til the End of the World”, a song that completes sidesteps her Americana tendencies and delves straight into Blade Runner-esque synthetics. “I’ve been quietly entertaining the thought of making electronic music for a while,” she says. “I write songs every day and some of them call for a different approach. I’m still making Americana and Rock too. I don’t care much about genres anyway. But when the pedal steel guitars stopped playing in Nashville because of the lockdown, I naturally turned to my keyboard.”
The track is crafted around scruffy synths and insistent percussion, guided through its cyberpunk landscape by the sheer force of Andrès’ brilliant voice. Enveloped in a fluid swagger and emboldened by its theatrical impulses, “Til the End of the World” embraces devastation and the dancefloor equally. Andrès is able to explore both the shadowy crags of her recent experiences and the light which is slowly trying to push back against these darker memories.