Premiere: Gayle Skidmore’s “Pale Ghosts” World Fully Encompasses You

Gayle Skidmore © 2017
Gayle Skidmore’s “Pale Ghosts” kicks off her album with a cinematic video that captures loss and longing through the lens of fantasy.

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Sounds that fully envelop a listener can really help establish a whole world. It’s the sensation people often describe when they put on their headphones as they walk and feel like they’re in a music video. San Diego singer/songwriter Gayle Skidmore’s The Golden West debut album uses a variety of strings and operatic vocals to attain this effect. The opening track “Pale Ghosts” creates a textured soundscape that wraps around you like a blanket, and it suits the fantasy-inspired video to go with it.

Pale ghosts are dancing on my windowsill
I’m close to turning on the light
But as I walk the room I hear a whippoorwill
I let them dance again tonight


Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the new music video for Gayle Skidmore’s “Pale Ghosts.” Between the strings and arpeggiated piano, “Pale Ghosts” sounds like it could have been plucked off of a film score. The whistling and occasional guitars add to the texture of the song, where even Skidmore’s voice acts more as an instrument than the only focus of the song. It’s the type of song that suits a lonesome walk or drive home from work as the sunsets around 4PM. It’s a song that displays the difficulties in letting go. As Skidmore sings, “If I didn’t need to miss you, I could dig a deeper grave,” she holds the notes on every word as if she’s scared of releasing just the word into a void like the person that the song is addressed to, and the ghosts that she finds comfort in.

the golden west - Gayle Skidmore.jpg

the golden west – Gayle Skidmore.jpg

If I didn’t need to miss you
I could dig a deeper grave
I could press the earth down
hard enough to keep the ghosts away

The video sees Skidmore wandering through a lush forest at dusk or dawn using a candlelit lantern to guide her. She travels through marshes and wintery forests in a white dress following various lights, which seem to represent spirits, she finds along the way. The cinematography, especially the full-sweeping establishment shots of the forest, is absolutely gorgeous. Skidmore wanders through the forest like she’s about to be reunited with the one she’s lost. The video ends with Skidmore being whisked away into the lantern she’d been carrying, before we see that there’s just a microcosmic version of the world Skidmore had been searching inside her lantern.

“I wrote ‘Pale Ghosts’ about being haunted by the past, and unable to let people go,” says Skidmore. “I wanted the video to capture the feeling of longing for those you’ve lost and finding comfort in their memories.”

Pale ghosts are dancing on my windowsill
I watch stars flicker though their skin
In smoke and shadow they are
wandering to find their bodies once again

“Pale Ghosts” is an excellent kick off to The Golden West, because the album is so incredibly varied, but the track really sets up certain themes that come up over and over again-beautiful piano and strings and classically-styled, emotive vocals. Unlike a number of singer-songwriters, Skidmore focuses just as much on the sonic qualities of her songs as she does on the lyrics. The video also helps reflect this in that it looks like any number of popular fantasy films. It sets a scene before Skidmore is engulfed into the lantern, which could represent how once you explore further into the album there is so much more and “Pale Ghosts” is an excellent place to start.

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:: stream/purchase The Golden West here ::

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the golden west - Gayle Skidmore.jpg

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James is a writer, currently in Human Resources at The New York Times. Besides Atwood, he’s contributed to SensationsPress.com and his own blog BurgerADay.com. In his free time, James also writes poetry, performs stand-up comedy, listens to more podcasts than he can keep up with, and can be found floating around shows in New York City’s punk scene.