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The post Allison Ponthier Breaks Down New EP Shaking Hands With Elvis Track By Track: Exclusive appeared first on Consequence.
Our feature series Track by Track allows artists to run through every song on their newest release. Today, Allison Ponthier dissects her sophomore EP, Shaking Hands With Elvis.
Allison Ponthier returns today (June 10th) with the gorgeous Shaking Hands With Elvis EP, her second release in just a year. The singer-songwriter established early on with her debut release, Faking My Own Death EP, that she was not interested in playing to the monogenre box that country music had outlined for her, instead opting for something closer to the dynamic folk-tinged stoicism of Kacey Musgraves and Orville Peck.
At the core of Allison Ponthier’s mission is embracing herself as a queer artist in an otherwise limiting space. Now, with Shaking Hands With Elvis, she’s expanded her sound a great deal, incorporating some fuzzy indie rock guitars, flexible song structures, and ambitious production choices. “Autopilot” is the most rock-forward song she’s ever released, and “Late Bloomer” seems to live in a Fleetwood Mac-style alternate universe.
These are some of the most vital and urgent tracks that Ponthier has ever crafted, and according to the artist herself, Shaking Hands With Elvis is all about “accepting [her] flaws and celebrating the weirdness of who [she is].” That boldness is clear as day on the EP, and it’s yet another example of why Ponthier is one of the most exciting singer-songwriters around.
In addition to working with pop laureate Ariel Rechtshaid on the new release, Ponthier has just wrapped up opening for Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers in some major venues last month. As she continues to work her way through the complicated music scene, Ponthier knows one thing for certain — there is more than enough room for her unique, effervescent pop, and that this is just the beginning. She may claim it’s “hard being hardcore” on the record, but Allison Ponthier makes it sound easy.
To get more insight into the songs on her Shaking Hands With Elvis EP, Consequence connected with Ponthier for a full breakdown. Check out the album below, followed by her Track By Track.
“Shaking Hands With Elvis”:
I recently lost someone who’d been an old friend, and I had never really experienced the loss of someone so young before. I was really struggling — I had a writing session, and I almost canceled it because I was quite sad. But I went anyway, and I pitched a million different song ideas. None of them felt quite right until I pitched the idea of “Shaking Hands With Elvis.”
A few months prior, I was looking up different euphemisms for death, and I thought “shaking hands with Elvis” was an incredible phrase. I’ve never really been afraid of death, and even after my friend passed away, I still wasn’t. But I did wish we could talk again. So I wondered, “What if Graceland was heaven? He was a musician, so what if he’s playing keyboards and singing?” Instead of him dying, it’s more like we have plans to meet up — I just don’t know when that’ll be.
“Hardcore” is about the juxtaposition of tough, gnarly things with beautiful, soft, sensitive things. For a long time, my being “too sensitive” was seen as a weakness. And I think that’s wrong because anyone who can emotionally navigate a situation is a hero. The world would fall apart if we didn’t have those people who are willing to step in and mediate and be vulnerable.
“Hollywood Forever Cemetery”:
I hadn’t been to Hollywood Forever when I wrote this song, but I liked the idea of a cemetery where after you die, people take care of you, even if you weren’t appreciated in your lifetime. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” is also about how people think being famous will fix them — only others get more vicious and critical the less they see someone as a person. I’m very drawn to finding the human in people who have been dehumanized.
“Chasing A Feeling”:
“Chasing A Feeling” is about ADHD. I got diagnosed last year, and I didn’t realize how much it affected my life. The song is about all the things I do while trying to catch serotonin and stimulate my brain. But it also just happens to be about a lot of the things I really like about myself. I used to hate that I went through a million phases when I was a teenager. “Oh, that’s so cringe-y and weird,” I thought. But now I think it’s cool that I felt comfortable experimenting and being different.
This one is about the “second puberty” you go through when you’re coming out, but it can be for anyone who’s had a roadblock in their life — maybe they had a difficult home life in the past and being on their own has made them feel comfortable or the first time. There are so many people I know who tell me they were late bloomers, but I think it’s more that their time wasn’t ready just yet.
I tell people “Autopilot” is about how I can’t drive. But it’s also about the numb feeling you get when you’re paralyzed by any kind of fear. I did feel like I was on autopilot for a long time before I came out, and after I did, I was shocked at how much I discovered about myself — things not even related to being a queer person were also hidden. Therapists often say you can’t turn off one emotion, because if you do, you’re at risk of turning off many others. That’s what happened to me.