Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Birth Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Folk
The first result for the “Jessica Pratt” Google search is a soprano in a bloodstained white opera costume. This is not the Jessica Pratt you’re seeking. Look a little harder for this woman; like her music, she appears subtle but is worth seeking out.Pratt’s self-titled album, released through new label Birth Records, is actually a collection of her recordings from the past five years.
The mid-aughts freak-folk moment found artists and fans blurring the boundaries between past and present and seeking out kindred spirits across time, which made it an abundant season for folk reissues. Linda Perhacs' Parallelograms, Karen Dalton's In My Own Time, and Sibylle Baier's Colour Green, to name just a few, all got their long-delayed, much-deserved days in record store windows. And now, after an unhurried half-decade gestation period, 2012 felt like the year we started to hear the debut records from some of the young artists who scooped those reissues up.
Jessica Pratt’s self-titled debut album is culled from five years of songwriting, but for most, Pratt arrived at the same time as Hurricane Sandy with blog posts in all corners of the internet for her song, “Night Faces”. Unlike the storm, the tune did not force its will on the music community and the lasting effect of Pratt’s arrival will likely be small, but the attention is a best-case scenario for such an artist; one who creates personal and unassuming work that lacks both commercial appeal and much connection to current trends. Regardless, many noted publications heard “Night Faces” and felt the need to share, and a similar reaction from White Fence’s Tim Presely resulted in the creation of Birth Records, a label for which Pratt’s album is the inaugural offering.
Jessica Pratt is wary of being pigeonholed. She’s cautious about her connection to the current music scene in San Francisco, where she lives. San Fran groups like Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh and Onlys, and Sonny and the Sunsets have been glorying in the sounds of the ‘60s—pop, folk, rock, psych—for years now, and Pratt’s aesthetic, though sparer and lonelier, seems of a piece with their mission to explore and mix older forms in the search of heady new combinations.
Jessica Pratt’s unassuming self-titled debut exists out of time. Which is to say it sounds like it blew in on a crisp autumnal breeze from 1970, back when unknown singer-songwriters were making albums that wouldn’t be appreciated until decades later. In another era, “Jessica Pratt” would have been a long-lost classic well worth rediscovering.