Jessica Pratt’s new self-titled debut album achieves that difficult feat of seeming timeless, from the exact vantage point of its release date – Call it forced perspective in the medium of cultural reference, maybe, but the album stands as a beautiful piece of ethereal folk-rock. Critics seem to be searching for just the right Stevie Nicks comparison, and for my 2 cents, it’s Stevie Nicks covering Hope Sandoval. Comparisons aside, though, it’s a unique album full of warm charm and nostalgic transportation.
There are two things about the record, more or less independent of the music, that strike me as significant: first, the ‘engineering’ of the recordings is superb. I feel like the state of technique and technology in recording has reached such a high crest, lately, that it forces some questions about ‘the hand of the artist’. Here’s an album that doesn’t mind having its mic placement and its reverb scrutinized (as well it shouldn’t.) And second, the story goes that Tim Presley (of Darker My Love and White Fence) actually started a label, Birth Records, for the sole purpose of launching this album. What that actually means is up for grabs, but I think it’s a signpost in the ongoing story of labels and record companies becoming more and more abstract concepts – and falling more and more under the control of musicians.
Check out the single “Night Faces” below, or get the album here. A great record for a long winter.