Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again LP
Drag City Records
California singer/songwriter Jessica Pratt's self-titled 2012 debut was so beautifully insular that getting lost inside its soft-spoken songs almost felt like listening in on a shy but talented housemate practicing in the next room. Her voice had the same sun-weathered rasp as Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, or any of the strange dreamers of the late-'60s Laurel Canyon scene, but the songs took on a far more distantly dreamy character, sounding beautiful but just out of reach in the same muted manner as Sibylle Baier's mysterious 1973 psych-folk masterpiece Colour Green. With her 2015 follow-up On Your Own Love Again, Pratt does little to change the hermetic alchemy she began on her debut, offering up only the subtlest developments to her already mesmerizing style. The fingerpicked acoustic guitar and thinner-than-air vocals of album-opener "Wrong Hand" are supported by extremely gentle Mellotron pads that fade in and out of audibility, blending in with equally soft overdubbed harmony vocals to beautiful effect. Another ear-catching sound comes with the reverb-laden spare percussion that shows up on the second half of "Game That I Play," taking the song out of its heady California folk-rock moods into decidedly Pet Sounds territory. Tinges of electric guitar and other understated instrumentation stay deep in the background, making space for Pratt's web of harmonies to take center stage. While there are definite highlights -- the softhearted and cheekily psychedelic love song "Moon Dude," the vaguely pop leanings of "Back, Baby" -- the entire album blends into a singular tone. Between the pleasantly dimming quality of Pratt's home-recorded production, the sparsity of the instrumentation, and the uniquely captivating nature of her voice, On Your Own Love Again creates a gentle, glowing atmosphere and invites the listener to hang out for a while. Without many spikes in volume or energy level, these murmuring songs generate an undeniably powerful radiance, breaking down doors creatively despite their understated trappings.