Jessica Pratt – Back, baby (Drag City, single)

This Los Angeles-based singer was a new name on me lately but this first taste from her upcoming album is absolutely intoxicating.

And it kinda shows up the limitations of writing down words about someone else producing sounds. Because this song is made up of such apparently simple raw materials. And describing them in words does no justice to the enduring atmosphere they create.

A Spanish guitar, strummed lightly and sunnily, although the lyrics undercut the breeziness with sombre reflections about love lost. In fact, repeated listens reveal a disapproving or even caustic tone wrapped in the soft, gentle musical skin.

And Pratt’s voice.

That’s it, apart from a few harmony vocals and some double tracked guitar here and there. Plus the swing, bordering on samba. And the major seventh chords.

Except her vocal delivery and phrasing are endlessly intriguing. The one word I find myself coming back to again and again is “time”, as in “if there was a time that you loved me”. She seems to pronounce it differently, as if she’s opening her mouth wider just for that word. As if the memory of time with her lover needs more air to admit the emotion attached. It’s a brilliant conjuring and adds a wonderful knotty quality to the carefree melody, evoking the joy of love but also its complications.

And so I seem to have written more than a few words about this song. Don’t let me detain you any longer from sampling its wonders yourself.

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