Published Jan 23, 2015Californian critical darling Jessica Pratt came to attention after White Fence's Tim Presley fell so in love with her four-track recordings that he started a record label (Birth) just to put her 2012 self-titled debut out. Pratt has a striking, original and womanly voice, which she accompanies with classically finger-picked guitar — it's easy to see what Presley fell in love with. The timeless ballads on her debut drew comparisons to early '70s greats like Vashti Bunyan and Karen Dalton.
On Your Own Love Again finds Pratt branching out (sometimes into Judee Sill territory, but more contemporary and psychedelic), expanding her sonic palette and often hinting at a symphony, even if it's made of origami and nested in a teacup. Despite the fact that the album is still almost entirely solo — Pratt has overdubbed herself on strummed electric guitar, minimalist percussion and backup vocals, while Will Canzoneri provides touches of organ and Clavinet — the songs seem poppier, trippier; far more open-ended. Pratt's lo-fi recording aesthetic may not be for some — you can hear the nylon strings of her close-miked guitar rub over the tape hiss that cuts in and out between songs — but that fashion works for her, and perhaps you're not supposed to get too comfortable listening to these somberly playful songs, anyway.
Pratt's succinct lines can spill out so naturally and conversationally it's hard to believe someone wrote them, except that she messes with the syntax a little, too. For instance: "People's faces blend together like a watercolour you can't remember in time" (from "Game That I Play"). Meanwhile, she achieves perfection on the album's single, "Back, Baby," with its tumbling Spanish guitar parts, bittersweet melody and delicately razor-sharp lyrics. (Drag City)