Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs review – beguiling songs of simplicity and space

(City Slang)

After the homespun recordings of her breakthrough, 2015’s On Your Own Love Again, the Los Angeles-based singer has ventured into a commercial recording studio. The tape hiss has gone, yet the fragile, dreamlike quality remains. Piano alternates with guitar as the predominant instrument, and opener Opening Night could almost be a lost Erik Satie reverie, with its quiet keys and gently thoughtful mood. The guitar-strummed Fare Thee Well is one of her loveliest songs to date. Pratt’s ethereal, almost childlike vocals arrive in a cloud of wistfulness and subtle echo and a flute occasionally weaves its way around the tune, the simplicity of her playing and the spaces in the music allowing plenty of room for the listener’s imagination.

Quiet Signs has a slightly jazzier, more soulful feel than her last, folkier outing, with a faint nod to Joni Mitchell on Poly Blue and perhaps even a hint of the Drifters’ On Broadway to the beguiling, sumptuous Here My Love. There’s also a more playful atmosphere to This Time Around and Silent Song. As ever, making out her lyrics is like trying to bottle fog. Clarity arrives in fragments. An “I know it’s over now” here, a “No longer your songbird singing the darkest hour of the night” there. The floaty Aeroplane is as mysterious as it is beautiful, and if some songs risk being that bit too hazy and undefined, Quiet Signs offers another magical otherworld to escape into.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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