Many lead singers take the plunge into solo careers and all with varying degrees of results. After the release of Stevie Nick‘s solo album, following her extensive career in Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stone deemed her “The reigning Queen of Rock and Roll”. Courtney Love could’ve only wished for the same reaction to her solo offering, America’s Sweetheart which instead, only saw her ‘reform’ Hole as a guise for her, ultimately, solo endeavours.
Paper Dollhouse is the work of Astrud Steehouder, vocalist and guitarist in London three piece The Rayographs. A Box Painted Black is her debut album and sees Steehouder following the footsteps of Nicks and co and stepping out on her own. Inspired by surreal and Gothic moving pictures like Czech classic, Valerie and her Week of Wonders and band name donor, Paperhouse, Steehouder has created a transgressive collection of folk tinged songs dense with intensity and draped in a brooding backdrop.
Track ‘Loved You More Than Ever’ is a dark and bewildering art performance piece which yearns for a cascade of flickering images to be shown during its swirling vocal progressions and Steehouder’s meandering monologue. It seems only apt then to hear that Paper Dollhouse has recently been working with photographer and writer Nina Bosnic in a live capacity using a variety of sonic and visual techniques including an old slide projector, a Dictaphone and prismatic imagery, to create a show as haunting as it is bare.
Similarly, track ‘Black Oak Tree’ deserves to play out on the edit credits of a classic western movie, with its sombre and Cash-esque Blues riffs and lyrics such as “words carved into the dirt track, so long”. Like the raw and initial demos of Dry that Polly Harvey spun out way back in 1992, A Box Painted Black is a collection of songs bound in emotive tonality as well as a fresh nativity.
As Steehouder says herself, it is “music for scenes in films that haven’t yet happened – but when they do, she is sure to be at the forefront of this cinematic new wave approach.