I’ve mentioned in a few of my previous articles that something I enjoy doing is experiencing an artist’s music for the first time in a live setting. It’s an experience that I believe cuts directly through the bullshit, and will give you a definite answer to the question of whether you like an artist or not. Luckily, another opportunity to do just that came up on Wednesday night as I was given last-minute approval to cover a folk singer from the West Coast named Jessica Pratt.
Preliminary research aside, my first taste of Pratt’s music came as she stepped out onto the First Avenue stage and strummed the opening notes to her 2015 song “Wrong Hand.” Immediately, I was intrigued. Her soft, yet distinct voice grabbed hold of my attention and ultimately left me unable to do anything but blissfully watch her perform over the next thirty minutes.
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Poly Blue, out today, is a special one for me. Taken from my new album Quiet Signs, it features the handy work of Al Carlson (@lazertunes), engineer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire. He was my right hand man in the studio and a heavy contributor of color. Hope y’all enjoy ❤️ Link in bio for listening!
With very little instrumental accompaniment, Pratt sits hunched over her guitar on stage, strumming and singing softly while her longtime boyfriend, Matt McDermott, handles the light amount of keyboard/synthesizer work. Leaving very little time for on-stage banter, the two quickly reset between songs and rolled from one song into another at a fairly rapid pace.
While Pratt has often disagreed with the comparison mostly because she felt it would “pigeon-hole” her as an artist, I found myself finding similarities between Pratt’s style and Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and Karen Dalton. However, Pratt’s peculiar voice and refined style put her in a category all her own.
The thirty-ish minute long set featured songs from both of her previously released albums, as well as a couple tracks from her upcoming release, Quiet Signs, which will be coming out on February 8th, 2019.
While the vast majority of the crowd seemed to be gearing up for what turned out to be an absolutely incredible performance by Kurt Vile and The Violators, Jessica certainly gained more than a few fans in the Twin Cities this week, and I fully expect her to find her way back to the First Avenue stage sometime soon.