Combining the heartfelt storytelling that comes from country music with contemporary pop songwriting, Allison Ponthier is becoming the face of a new sonic wave of alternative country musicians. The 25 year old from Texas remembers her roots but explores different paths, following in the steps of other musicians before she ventures off trail and into strange new fields that’ve lead to her current sonic wonderland. However her world creation skills don’t stop there, her camp visual aesthetic shows she’s got a vision she wants people to take note of. Eccentric in every way, her music videos are like small over the top family films from the early 90’s, having an Edward Scissor Hands vibe about them and embracing her quirky qualities in the process. This queer artist’s imagination simply holds no bounds and, as we all expected, her debut EP Faking My Own Death demonstrates this as she whimsically portrays her journey to where she is now.
Her crystalline vocal is ever present in the opening track Cowboy, which also functioned as her debut single, with the lyrics paying homage to her own discovery that came from her time away, “It took New York to make me a cowboy,” and the production being simply mouth watering. This is introduced us to her sound earlier this year and sets this EP off on the perfect note, giving us insight into who she thought she was before revealing she was disguising herself as someone else the entire time, embracing her own eccentricities in the process. Still on my heavy rotation, still an absolute treat of a track.
Paid For reminds me of old bars where there’s just a small stage set up and you hear someone letting a crowd of strangers know their pain in a beautifully somber and cathartic moment. The intimacy of the number allows you to form an instant connection with her heart-on-sleeve storytelling, allowing the pain she feels to trickle down into your soul and relate to your own past experiences. It’s simple and elegant, never needing to be over the top to make the message influence those who listen.
Narratively her best track, Harshest Critic is as authentic as they come. She never wavers with her passionate performance with her earnest vocal crooning unfiltered thoughts that we’ve all had run through our minds. People judging us based on our first impressions, thinking everyone hates us, not feeling comfortable in a room where everyone stares you down and knowing that whist you think they judge you, you’re your own worst critic. I can see this featuring in a teen drama in the near future during a ‘loving yourself’ episode and, in all honesty, I think this would make the scene much more impactful.
Despite the title Hell is a Crowded Room, the track makes you feel as if you’re floating amongst the clouds, gliding above it all like a majestic bird or, in this case, an angel. Her celestial vocal backed by a small chorus of heavenly harmonies gives you a euphoric feeling before her poetically poignant lyrics bring you back down to earth with the devastating emotion they bring. Grab your tissues and have a little cry whilst walking through the air with this one.
Faking My Own Death is everything I love about this artist and then some. She effortlessly weaves a lyrical tapestry that creates a movie in your mind, each word adding to this blockbuster that has you hooked from start to finish until the final lyric is uttered and you’re left wanting nothing more than to see it again. Ponthier brings you on a journey with every track she writes and, judging from how this EP is currently playing out, I genuinely think she needs to consider a TV show for this project. I can just see it being as camp as A Series of Unfortunate Events whilst still maintaining the quirkiness and heartfelt messages she brings through her music.
We end on a love letter to Ponthier’s roots, Tornado Country paints a vivid picture of the world she’s known her whole life during a devastating moment, the houses made of 2by4s, the joy everyone experiences within this town and the sense of community that comes from it. She might’ve left this place but, wherever she may roam, she brings it along with her, always keeping her home close to her heart.
Inspiring, beautiful and genuinely heartwarming, Allison Ponthier has crafted a stellar project that functions both as a life affirming gift and a piece of cinematic brilliance. It might’ve taken New York to make her a cowboy, but it only took one listen to make us a fan.