INTERVIEW: Pauline Murray | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A high proportion of recently released albums seem to have been made in a matter of months; in some cases suggesting interesting sparks of lockdown creativity, in others a seeming desire to polish up old demos that have been lying around the house.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s recent observation that artists need to increase the regularity of the ‘content’ they release may be an interesting point to make, but I’m not sure that the music fans I know are interested in hearing ‘lockdown special’ cover albums, and surely scarcity plays a part in the enjoyment of being a music fan? Don’t we enjoy the wait for new releases by our favourite artists?

All of which sets the context for a new album by Pauline Murray, singer, songwriter and performer with first-wave punks Penetration and 80s pop force The Invisible Girls. Taking four years to create and design, Elemental arrives with us in late September; surely a long enough period for us to miss her particular blend of acoustic/electronic pop and to be excited for her return.

Yeah, it took a while to get this one out,” confirms Murray, “we actually started recording and writing it in France almost four years ago, taking our time to write on acoustic guitar, and letting the music come to us when it was ready. We had the album fully ready and mastered in 2019 and were keen to release it then, before it was delayed again.”

Further delays with shifting logistical challenges mean that it’s taken almost a full year to release Elemental, something Pauline seems acutely aware of. “It’s been really hard some days to keep going if I’m honest. Even though I’m really proud of the album we’ve had to really stay focused and get through issues with the release and then challenges with promoting the album with the lockdown situation.”

Live music will be back, but we need to do all we can to make sure there’s venues to play in when we get back

Elemental sees a continuation of her partnership with long-term collaborator Robert Blamire and also sees the return of Penetration’s Paul Harvey, Steve Wallace and Ken Goodinson, supplemented by the Invisible Girls’ Steve Hopkins and Roxy Music’s Paul Thompson on drums. The album title perhaps gives a nod to the album’s loose theme; all tracks are written in minor keys and cover topics like the power of nature, emotional ties, reflections and depression, as synth-led pop gives way to gentle, shifting sounds.

Given Elemental’s fusion of acoustic and electronic sounds, it’s a real shame we won’t get to hear Pauline perform live in the immediate future. “I’d really like to be out playing live and letting people hear the album but the gigs have been pushed back and pushed back. It’s understandable of course, and the shows will happen, but I guess we all just have to be patient.” We do have lead single Secrets to build our anticipation; especially given its accompanying creepy, multi-layered video. “We ended up doing the video at the height of lockdown, in the loft, in one take, and it came out really well; so much so that we’re working on similar ideas.”

An accompanying live virtual event may support Elemental’s release, as Pauline admits they’re hoping to do a streaming event from her own Polestar Studios followed by some eventual touring next year. “There’s talk of doing some Invisible Girls shows soon and playing parts of Elemental in that set which I think will work really well,” she reveals, although Pauline’s immediate focus is supporting the local scene and venues: “We all need to stick together and support the music scene and each other. Live music will be back, but we need to do all we can to make sure there’s venues to play in when we get back. We all need each other in the music scene more than ever.”

Pauline Murray releases Elemental on 25th September via Polestar Records. Pauline Murray performs at Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 31st October


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