Beauty lies in its imperfection.” – Melodie und Rhythmus (Germany)
“A French ‘exception culturelle’ …” – Magic Magazine (France)
POLLYANNA play The Great Escape, Brighton on Saturday, 21 May
1pm at Spiegle Pub, Old Steine
8.30pm at Queens Hotel, 1-3 Kings Road
Pollyanna is a Paris-based project led by Isabelle Casier.
The intricacy of her songwriting, her voice and the band’s unorthodox use of strings and drums, are reminiscent of the raw charm of Laura Veirs, The Decemberists and PJ Harvey. Despite a natural flair for minor chords, Isabelle’s cheerful presence, eclectic taste and experiences as an outsider – in Europe, the USA & South America – open up her musical field to all things pop, rock and folk. She has shared a bill with Riot grrrls Sleater Kinney, the sophisticated indie-pop of Wilco, Françoiz Breut’s cult French Chanson and rootsy folkters in Tennessee.
Pollyanna’s is a journey through folk, nostalgia, melancholia and something indefinable…
Current single, ‘Old Rockers’, written after seeing a poster of Iron Maiden and Jimmy Page on the Paris Metro, is about ‘Les travaux de Chauvel’, the generation gap between babyboomers and the next generation.
Watch new video for ‘Old Rockers’
“A beautiful and compelling honesty, and a subtlety rarely found in these hectic and transient days” (BBC Bristol)
“Neko Case with a European flair “ (Jezebel Music, NYC, USA)
Hear The Mainland album
Guitar on her back, Pollyanna takes one final glance back at old Europe, full of history and memories, then steps firmly forward toward the New World… or, at least, that’s the story suggested by Pollyanna’s second album, The Mainland, its cover-art showing a pier by the northern
sea, open to the horizon.
We discovered Pollyanna, a Paris-based project lead by Isabelle Casier, back in 2008 with her first album On Concrete, a wintery record influenced by her Northern roots that suggested a cultural crossroads between England, Belgium and France.
Seduced by her clear, heart-warming voice and the magic of the band’s arrangements, we were reminded a little of the edgy charm of The Dø. But Isabelle is hardly one for strict tradition, and was soon bored of being labelled as another French folkster singing in – good – English. And so, despite a natural flair for minor chords and melancholy, Isabelle’s cheerful presence, eclectic taste and experiences as an outsider (in Europe, the USA, South America…) opened up her musical field to all things pop, rock and folk.
After her playing with her first rock band in Marseille in the late 90s, (and, with them, supporting great acts like Dominique A, Sleater Kinney and Polvo, Isabelle moved to Paris and founded Pollyanna. First a duo, then a solo act, it led her through an ambitious international touring circuit, from England to Germany to New York to Tennessee… along the way sharing the bill with local indie bands and bigger names like Wilco, Bright Eyes and the French chanteuse Françoiz Breut. From acoustic strummers at the Folk Alliance in Memphis to Riot grrls in Hamburg, all this moving around gave the Pollyanna sound openness and freedom, as well as helping Isabelle scoop up a bunch of fellow musicians. The current band (as represented on The Mainland) is, not surprisingly, an international offering, with a Parisian cellist, a Breton drummer, a Canadian viola player and a German violinist…
The addition of all these strings suggests the recent album has shifted back in a folk-direction, and so it sounds on certain tracks like the woodsy cocoon of ‘Real Life’, or the nonchalant ‘Bruxelles’, or, finally, the aptly named ‘My Favourite Song’. However, Isabelle is also a big fan of volts and batteries and whimsy and surprise, and, overall, The Mainland is a whirlwind tour of styles and sounds, from Power Pop ‘Old Rockers’ to Country ‘Broadcast in Heaven’, to Steady ‘Tiger’ and, even, Calypso ‘I Wish I Worked in a Factory’. But don’t let the varied richness of the twelve tracks’ arrangements fool you; at its heart, this album has a straight-forward honesty that cuts through both the lyrics and the music, and Isabelle’s voice is the core at the center of it all, poised and clear.
The Mainland plays across the spectrum of nostalgia before, finally, taking your hand and gently but firmly leading you on to voyages new. As Pollyanna has proven, true salvation lies only in momentum. I’m moving on.