Jessica Pratt Here In The Pitch Review: Californian enigma moves into the shadows on dream-like fourth LP

Singer songwriter refines her hazy visions on latest album Here In The Pitch

Jessica Pratt

by Jim Wirth |
Updated on

Jessica Pratt

Here In The Pitch



BACK IN 2012, when her self-titled debut became something of a word-of-mouth sensation, Jessica Pratt explained that her yen for a slightly distant sound was down to growing up listening to music on cassette. “That real dreamy, cloudy sound,” she said. “That’s kind of always what I wanted to go for.”

One way and another, Pratt has stayed true to that vision. Here In The Pitch is only the fourth LP the perfectionist songwriter has managed to let go of, but on the belated follow-up to 2019’s much-feted Quiet Signs, her ethereal songwriting, uncannily pitched vocals and penchant for Shangri-Las séance music continue to mark her out as an eerie one-off: Laura Nyro as painted by Joan Miró.

Pratt calls lead track Life Is a “false flag” in terms of the rest of Here In The Pitch, its kitchen-sink drama production and carpe diem spirit somewhat at odds with the record’s murky MO. “Life is/It’s never what you think it’s for,” she announces over stabbing Street Hassle strings. Ryley Walker is on guitar somewhere in the mix, but Pratt is the frosty Shirley Bassey centre stage, a splendid ambling melody leading her to her fridge magnet-worthy pay-off line: “It’s the age of what’s to come/And baby you’re on.”

However, if Pratt has the chutzpah to deliver a killer affirmation, it is not something she makes a habit of. While on World On A String she sings, “I want to be the sunshine of the century”, her natural place remains the shadowy corners, with Here In The Pitch imagining Scott Walker’s moody Scott 3 on starvation rations: grand metaphysical drama, but with the gigantic orchestrations boiled down to acoustic guitar, ghostly keyboards and echoey wood-block percussion.

There are fragments of a tale of woe scattered across its Desertshore-style run time. All chewed fingernails, Pratt yearns for cosmic vengeance on Better Hate, and for lost things on her beached samba Get Your Head Out (“I keep comin’ back to what I left behind”). However, as with Aldous Harding, Jana Horn or Aoife Nessa Frances, her words tend to sidestep the confessional to chart more diffuse interior states, By Hook Or By Crook, Empires Never Know and Nowhere It Was all venturing far into automatic-writing dreamland.

It ends somewhere a little more lucid. The Last Year offers something like a resolution. “You’d wonder if ever there’s been hope for me,” Pratt sings as she picks out another redemptive, Dusty Springfield-at-35rpm melody. Times have been hard, but the future suddenly looks bright: “I think it’s gunna be fine, I think we’re gunna be together, and the storyline goes forever.” The finer details of that plot are a little hazy, but Here In The Pitch prefers to keep it that way. It’s cloudy, dreamy. Don’t worry so much about what it all means, lie back and let the tape hiss.

Here In The Pitch is out now on City Slang.

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon | Rough Trade | HMV

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