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  • Millie Watson

Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again (2015)

I have a particularly soft spot in my heart for this album. This album was the beginning of me finding my own voice, my own aesthetic. When I started university I had a serious issue with imposter syndrome. This is only me thinking about it retrospectively, I wasn’t anxious or suffering in any way, but I had a feeling that I didn’t belong in the music community. I have always been a functional pianist, but it was my creativity that would get me over the line. When I was studying classical piano that didn’t exactly bring a lot of comfort, and I felt inadequate when I would compare myself with the fantastic musicians around me. Thankfully I didn’t fall into the ‘comparison trap’ too often, and tootled along as I am wont to do.

However, my boyfriend at the time had a major influence over my music. I’m grateful to him because he introduced me to music I had never heard before (most prominently Baths, but that blog will come). I viewed him as the arbiter of taste – so I’m lucky he has good taste! But it was at the expense of my own exploration.

To cut a long story short, heartbreak is a catalyst for a whole lot and I plunged myself into music both in my personal practice and in my listening. I was listening to Jessica Pratt on my whole exchange, and said ex was totally indifferent to her. I felt that really marked a fork in the road for my own self-actualisation.

So enough self-indulgent reminiscing! Although what is this blog if not a gratuitous exercise in self-indulgence…

The first thing that drew me in was the complete breakdown of quantising form – that’s not a thing, it’s just how I like to think of it. What I mean is that Pratt’s verses and lyrics don’t snap to the rigid pillars of bars, she lets the line and lyrics wander. Seven years after listening to this album for the first time I can hear her influences and have since explored the trad folk/freak folk artists so her form may not seem so dramatic to people familiar. But honestly, I hadn’t heard anything like it and I could not get enough. I have fallen in love with every single track from this album over the years. My first favourites remain dear but then I would intensely listen to another track. Rinse and repeat and now I think I could sing this album to you backwards.

Different faces blend together like a water colour you can’t remember in time

Although I was naive to the breadth/depth of recording techniques at the time, the rich sound-world brought by recording onto tape is beautiful. It is such an intimate record, you’re in the room with her and yet she’s just out of sight as her alien crooning floats above. It's an incredible achievement as there remains a real sense of space on the tape, with lovely spacialisation as guitars twang in the peripheral and harp-like strokes move about your head. When I first listened, I didn’t know where to start. Her lyrics were so unconventional, no rhyming and very little repetition.

Her melodies brought forward a new harmonic language for me. The melodies break convention with large leaps or moments of harmonic surprise whilst maintaining a sense of ease and almost casual execution. I also appreciate the overarching unity of this album. The world-building is totally convincing and the album cover perfectly sets the tone. Every song is another perspective of this created life (?maybe?) that she’s sharing with us. Her guitar sound is really organic as she is comfortable in the natural deviation from our oppressive A440 expectations. Autumnal, nostalgic, maybe an ode to a childhood long past.

Key tracks:

Back Baby: ‘Back Baby’ was the single from the album and the first tune I heard. “Sometimes I pray for the rain”. So understated but so poignant. The chorus is also one the best written choruses, as soon as I heard it I had to consume. I kept shovelling this song into my greedy gob and it still wasn’t enough, I’m always hungry for this.

Moon Dude: It is such a clear portrait to me. Don’t ask me what of, it just is.

Jacquelyn in the Background: This melody sits so satisfyingly in my register. It has a nursery rhyme vibe with the guitar continuously rambling along. A great example of her comfort in departing from the harsh confines of modern tuning.


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