Jessica Pratt – “Quiet Signs” album review

Impressive and precocious songwriting skills aside, Jessica Pratt’s voice is one of the most enchanting sounds to ever bless the folk singer-songwriter division of the underground. With music that is at times both surprisingly timeless and obviously rooted in a strong psychedelic songstress tradition, the return of Jessica Pratt is something many people have been anticipating ever since her last album, 2015’s “On Your Own Love Again” captured the hearts of thousands through only a soft but commanding voice and a hazy 4-track aesthetic that fit nicely among that record’s labelmates at Drag City.

Most Realized Project So Far

Out in 2019 through Mexican Summer, “Quiet Signs” is quite possibly Pratt’s best record, and probably her most realized effort to date, even at its most atmospheric. The record begins with a hazy Satie-esque piece called “Opening Night”, played on piano by Pratt’s boyfriend and frequent collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Matthew McDermott, who not only shines on the album’s arrangement but also on being the object of affection Pratt so endearingly sings about.

From clear highlights “This Time Around”, “Poly Blue” and “Fare Thee Well” to more open, meditative tracks such as “As the World Turns” and the very aptly titled “Silent Song”, Pratt continues piling on the universe she created with her two previous records and aspires to become one of the best voices around, effectively following in the tradition of strong women with commanding, yet soft voices that made amazing careers for themselves, including Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom and Bjork.

In Tune with The Name

On a musical landscape that is so clearly marked by electronic music and hip-hop artists that seem to be more and more indifferent to the emotional affectations and way more loyal to a certain, rather hollow aesthetic, it doesn’t seem plausible that an album like Quiet Signs could surpass all the noise and buzz made by brighter, more attention-seeking lights, but somehow its energy radiates larger than almost anything else in the current industry landscape, showing how strong a softly plucked acoustic guitar, a voice and minimal, instrumentally pastoral musical accompaniment can be when used in the right measure.

Album closer “Aeroplane” serves as a beautiful bookend to a what is sure to be one of the best albums of this year, and reassures what Pratt accomplishes only with minimal effort, and how we can all learn to use her “less-is-more” and emotionally-affecting approaches to obtain amazing results. When her voice croons, hearts melt, and when McDemortt’s flutes and keys vibe, they take the songs and propel them into a new space, which we are only brought back from by Pratt’s sturdy and clear lyricism, as well as her uncanny ability of crafting compelling vocal harmonies to serve as contrast for the lonely, often times haunting ballads that she so effortlessly seems to be put out into the world, just as it was regular business to her, not knowing how these songs can mean, and sometimes be the world when listened to late at night with a glass of wine hanging by your side.