September 15, 2022

Pomme Consoles Me


To begin with, an apology. It is not always easy to write a mix of English and other languages in the same document. I will try and get it right but if I miss a diacritical mark or two, please forgive me. Trying to mix French and American components in writing is, itself, a metaphor for Pomme’s latest album consolation. In consolation, Pomme bridges the American singer-songwriter tradition and traditional chanson française styles. consolation is sometimes sad and even heartbreaking but never tedious. There is always a sweetness to the songs, something often missing with indie singer-songwriters. Even better, the sweetness is balanced with other semtiments so that it doesn’t become twee or saccharine. Even the use of using only lower-case letters in the song titles, something common in many indie songs, doesn’t come across as contrived so much as an extension of Pomme’s personality. In this regard, it is similar to the poet e.e. cumming’s unusual grammar styles, including using all lower case. It comes off as honest and, perhaps, even romantic but not an affectation.

On consolation, Pomme’s sometimes sings in a theatrical manner without becoming ridiculously over the top. Like Kate Bush, Pomme uses her theatrics for emotional effect but not manipulation. The quiet doesn’t get lost in the urgency. This is apparent from the very beginning with “jardin.” Pomme’s voice soars from low and quiet to loud and high, conveying the emotional content of the song. Unlike so many other indie artists, Pomme drives the emotional center deftly and with balance, instead of through use of artificial emotional manipulation. At times, the album is full of longing or pain, and other times deep love and happiness. Some songs, for example “la rivière”, seem like classics from the 1970’s singer-songwriters. Pomme’s songs can, in this respect, seem like the best of James Taylor, her closest American analog. They are reflective, maybe a little sad, but still sweet and hopeful in their core.

There is one English language song on consolation, “when I c u”. At first, this worried me. Recording in English seems like a commercial play, an attempt to grab a wider audience by going outside Pomme’s own culture and musical style. I can’t speak to Pomme’s motivation, but the song doesn’t seem like a land grab to me. It is an achingly sweet love song that would succeed in any language. Perhaps, Pomme wrote this for an English-speaking lover, one who was deeply missed. It doesn’t matter. “When I c u” is an intensely beautiful song that speaks directly to the soul in any language.

consolation is Pomme’s third album and a true masterpiece. No artists today, with the exception of Aurora, has merged a traditional European song tradition with an American popular style with such dexterity. Others, such as Rosalia, have tended to descend into pure American or Euro pop and become shells of their former selves. Pomme has avoided that trap and produced an album infused with head and heart. My only regret is that I can’t speak French well enough to listen to the words as she sings them. Instead, I can only feel what Pomme is saying through the music. You should too.