The San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Jessica Pratt’s first self-titled record felt like it beamed from a lost archive of folk music, left undisturbed until she was discovered by Tim Presley, who was so moved by Pratt’s music that he released the album for her.
On Your Own Love Again, her second album, is released on Drag City, an independent label with large roster including Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Presley’s own band White Fence.
The album doesn’t deviate too much from an intimate place which allows Pratt and sparse accompaniment space to fill up the track. Guitars are finger-picked along with the harmony-boosted vocals with some gentle woodwind, percussion or clavinet. The difference this time around is the album has its own sense of place, helped by the short recording time compared to the first album’s five year period.
Comparisons to Callahan, Karen Dalton, Linda Perhacs, Nick Drake, Nico or Vashti Bunyan no longer feel as right as they once did, Pratt has made her own grain in the wood of these songs. Her enchanting vintage timbre lulls us into a bedrock of folk psychedelia, the notes melting away the songs into a gentle lap. A palpable sense of eeriness is present, in the rolling “doo-doo-doo” passages of ‘Strange Melody’, in lyrics which announce themselves but soon dissipate out of a narrative: “people whose faces blend together like a watercolour you can’t remember,” she sings on ‘Games We Play’. Pratt audibly melts into silence via a lower tone twist on ‘Jacqueline In The Background’.
Yes, the songs feel like they come from the same place but the blurriness leads to a reinforced dreaminess that works better for the album as background-setting 31 minutes and nine tracks than individual nuggets.
It’s a spell only really broken by the album’s last two songs. The immediate pop lean of ‘Back, Baby’ is direct in its sentiment and aim: a lover who “better reconsider all the love you took in and then cast aside,” while the short last track feels stark in its honesty “I tried to believe in you somehow but every time, I do I get down and out.”
The album is on iTunes.