Published on March 6th, 2019 | by voxx0
Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs
The third album from LA songwriter Jessica Pratt opens with a scratchily recorded piano, fingers slowly tracing out two mournful chords as Pratt’s wordless vocals quietly drift in from afar. It’s like overhearing someone practising in a distant, lonely attic. “Otherworldly” and “bewitching” are words often used to describe delicate, folk-leaning music, but there is a truly mesmerising quality to the 31-year-old’s voice: a quivering, silk-spun thread that can ensnare you like a thick fog.
It’s largely the reason why Pratt’s records have an atmosphere that would be intoxicating over mere wisps of songs, but much like 2015’s On Your Own Love Again, Quiet Signs doesn’t take long to reveal the sturdy songwriting within the impressionistic, bled-into colours.
In fact, it’s remarkable how much flesh Pratt can put on the bones of these songs with only the most rudimentary of elements. ‘Fare Thee Well’ and ‘Here My Love’ paint an entire lifetime of lost happiness, longing and regret with only a few words, a gently thumbed acoustic and barely audible echoes of flute and piano. ‘Crossing’ has knots and thorns within its curlicues, like a centuries-old tale handed down through generations, while the crash of tambourine and electric guitar on ‘Aeroplane’ take her into the intimacy of the third, self-titled Velvet Underground album.
An ever-present tape hiss hangs over the whole thing like a dust sheet, heightening the feeling that you’re listening to something that’s been unearthed from another place and time. Not that it wants for any potency in 2019. Quiet Signs is an utterly captivating record from its first second to its last.
- By Jake White