Jessica Pratt – Here In The Pitch

An enchanting, atmospheric return...

Each new album from Jessica Pratt feels like a gift. The songwriter works at her own speed, ensuring that each message is imbued with a remarkable sense of emotional accuracy. Third album ‘Quiet Signs’ landed in 2019, impressing with its frosted arrangements and baroque flourishes, stripping her art down to its core in the process. Long-awaited follow-up ‘Here In The Pitch’ isn’t exactly fulsome, but it certainly pivots to broader sonics – framed by aspects of Laurel Canyon songwriting, 60s pop, and even bossa nova, it’s a warmer, richer experience blessed with aspects of pure magic.

Opener ‘Life Is’ is draped with a hint of Hollywood drama, the arrangement recalling a late 50s cinema score. ‘Better Hate’ is sombre yet magnetic in its melodic allure, infusing the 60s pop of the Left Banke, say, with Southern horns. A display of tension and release, the subtle strings underpinning ‘World On A String’ put you in mind of those early Leonard Cohen records, or even Simon & Garfunkel’s ballads.

It’s not all reference-spotting, however. Jessica Pratt – and co-producer Al Carlson – are reacting to the songs, to the structures underneath. Potent and personal, her work cuts deep as ever, the LA artist’s pen relishing the short narrative-driven pieces of audio theatre she’s driven herself to create.

As such, there’s an air of magic to ‘Get Your Head Out’, while the bossa lilt of ‘By Hook Or By Hook’ sits in parallel to the lyrical determination Jessica Pratt conjures. Piano-fuelled torch song ‘Empire Never Know’ is wonderfully atmospheric, conjuring visions of late night isolation worthy of those first few Tom Waits solo records.

Closing on familiar ground, the spartan guitar piece ‘Glances’ has the softness of a spider’s web, the soft arpeggios unfolding like a dream. Closing with the jazz chording of ‘The Last Year’ this is a record that revels in brevity, a project that ensures that each part connects neatly to the next. A gorgeous example of her beautifully sombre world-building, ‘Here In The Pitch’ is another remarkable example of Jessica Pratt’s unique artistry.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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