Jessica Pratt - Photo by Kim Smith-Miller

You need to know this first: I adore almost every obscure female folk artist from 1965-72, from Karen Dalton and Vashti Bunyan to Linda Perhacs and Sibylle Baier. I’m just a sucker for those kinds of quiet, weird albums that seem to have been recorded alone, late at night, after too much booze or LSD or bad French poetry. The singer is miserable and the guitars sound despondent, and I just can’t get enough. (I’ll admit that I also like their obscurity — the fact that there’s something inherently off about the records that made them flop originally.)

So it’s no surprise that I love Jessica Pratt. Here’s a modern day version of this phenomenon, right in our midst! On her self-titled debut (released in November on Birth Records), she absolutely nails the sound, from the slightly watery guitar picking to those pinched, otherworldly vocals to that weird compression that makes it sound like the whole thing was recorded in a bathroom with blankets hung over the tub.

Pratt isn’t for everyone. My girlfriend tries to stab me when I play her album. Heck, it’s not even for all times of day — it’s got to be late or rainy or that crisp hour before sunset when the light fades away — but when it’s right it’s just about perfect. I’m betting that in 40 years some kid is going to come across this record and love it to pieces for all the same reasons.

Dan Strachota is the talent buyer for Rickshaw Stop as well as a freelance writer.

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