Sitting atop a fallen log, pouring out her troubles to a bunch of long-haireds dressed in dirt, worn denim and brown-leather boots, coos Jessica Pratt over a beaten acoustic on her self-titled debut. The burnt dope of numerous corncob pipes addresses spokes of waning, mid-afternoon light gently turning through maple and pine. It’s so quiet you can hear the saliva separate from her tongue, from her lips, from the roof of her mouth. She continues to pick. To strum. To lull the gathering before her into an effortless sway. Some braid. Some rock amongst the sticks. Some lie close to the ground, perching their heads with a clasped wrist. In that lost hollow, the ephemeral tribe closes their eyes, sinking deeper and deeper into her lines: “Those midnight wheels are turning all the time. And the way they work is to wear me down until you come back around.”
Depending on how often you hang out at Fred Penner’s Place, the old, nature-speak of the debut may prove tiring. But, Jessica Pratt plays and speaks to the introspective “saddo” in us all. The growing pains beyond adolescence. Simply, drifting amongst the chaos in worlds we’ve enabled ourselves to carve, re-imagine, and mature to our chagrin. Fertile worlds oblivious to whether it’s 1968 or 2004. Worlds with which we are just as vulnerable and accountable. Harboring the thread of struggle blatantly sewn into our dreams.
From the pocket of Tim Presley (the man behind White Fence) and his new label, Birth, comes a woman straddling the boundaries of taste and perception. Stripped down. Bare boned. A voice, a feeling. True folk. Lying somewhere between the stylings of James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and mid-aught tunesmiths like Cocorosie, OCS, Joanna Newsom, and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Stevie Nicks, of course, should be thrown in there, too. “Leather and Lace” balancing the old and new influences atop the style metronome.
Stick around. While fluid, not much variation is provided across 11 tracks and 41 minutes. But consistency is her strength. And the duet finale “Dreams” is a fitting period for her first outing.
Presley’s weight in the music community most likely prompted Pratt’s talent to broader audiences in a quicker fashion, so it’s not like we wouldn’t have caught on eventually and enjoyed it any less. I’m always down to spend a couple two-tree hours a month at ol’ Fred Penner’s Place. Especially when someone like Jessica Pratt is a guest.