Nearly every time, Jessica Pratt sounds like a ghostly spirit from some folksy, abandoned epoch; isolate any of her tracks and it’ll play like the scratchy, antique balladry of a ’60s recluse strumming tender, hippie muses by a deep-woods campfire. Her sound is uncannily old, her 28-year-old glints of lovelorn regret a warm counsel. She takes us for regular, chilling jaunts to and from her own havens of lovesick withdrawal, her method of soul-entry the unfurl of dusty, layered harmonies that welcome the creeping in of her eery, nasal hums.
Pratt’s On Your Own Love Again EP is something to complement a bleak day’s afternoon of window-gazing, thought-collecting, or just wondering where it all went wrong. It’s versatile for any mood below cheerful. And while it’s at times a consolation intended to vitalize (“Back, Baby”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”), the compilation’s woeful outpour proves mostly an abettor for heartbreak relapse. With the folk singer’s second studio album, melancholia you never knew burrowed within, surfaces. Either that, or Pratt plants it there.
The singer’s threadbare heart, a weakness she feels almost too casually verbalizing to us, is a continuous power outlet for the nine-track, all-acoustic mourning. “Wrong Hand” intros Jessica’s misery like a bad omen; dour acoustic chords circle her foreboding murmurs, but it’s uncertain whether the hook echoes with jealousy or apathy: (“So you’re running around the world, with your head above the ground/ And you’re dancing too close behind, with a darling in a hidden shroud…”).
Jessica has a spectral gift of making even the most utter desolation sound sweet, an ability that needs no other embellishment beyond her so-emotive-it’s-almost-human guitar. A rare, weirdly satiating duo that would seem overworked coming from any other indie artist, On Your Own Love Again‘s 40 minutes still feels incomplete.
For stinging recall of a spoiled fling, “Back, Baby” is Pratt’s ode to a quiet rejection that still doesn’t sit well. It offers her ‘truth-hurts’ reality (“your love is just a myth I devised”), the undeniable longing (“and sometimes, I pray for the rain”), and an admittance of an obsessed-over, but lost cause (“Oh when time’s a frozen thing, it encloses you in its crystaling…). Grazed with soft, floret-like chords, it’s Pratt’s most sober–and likely most relatable–moment on the EP.
“Strange Melody” is undirected and numb, its ominous repetition bordering on Gypsian chant and Egyptian burial march. Similar detachment occurs on “Moon Dude”, a melody and imagery as title-explanatory as it gets. These might be the best tracks on the album, for all their complexity and zone-out value.
Jessica Pratt handpicks the ugliest weeds of love for what seems a misery bouquet, yes, but it’s effect is more of an embrace of the way things are, rather than some drudging, self-pity fest held by an emo indie girl. Rather, it’s much deeper–like we’re hearing some valuable insight from a wise, timeworn woman stained by broken promises and deception.
Buy it on iTunes here:
…and listen to “Back, Baby” below: