If a single word could best describe the new release from Jessica Pratt, the first one she’s conceived as a proper album from songwriting to recording, it’s “familiarity.” And not the kind of familiarity that is rehash, simply the re-creation of tricks that have worked in the past, but the kind of familiarity where a stray bit of melody or the Pratt-on-Pratt harmonies or an out-of-context lyric strikes you as something you’ve heard before.
Some of these you can place, like an unintentional nod to Duran Duran on “Strange Melody” or a lyric from “Moon Dude” echoing something by Aaron Lewis you heard on alternative radio growing up. Other bits aren’t easy to pin down, like “Jacquelyn in the Background”, where Pratt fans in an unexpected hook, singing, “If you just can’t find the words to tell/ Let me say that I know you well.” She leaves the listener in an equally speechless state, comforted by the warmth of the moment, unable to explain exactly why.
Moments like this are not uncommon when listening to Jessica Pratt, and maybe it’s the result of her having a similar musical history to her audience, finding the right balance of influences to reflect and morphing them into her own unique perspective. Or maybe she is just a songwriting genius. Either way, there is some magic in the way she can take something as simple as folk songwriting on acoustic guitar and make it a fresh experience.
This peaks with her single, her banger, “Back, Baby”. It’s the most uptempo music she has released, her most re-playable, and when it debuted last fall, it instantly alleviated any fears that her new album would just be redundant, that she was the proverbial one-trick-pony. On Your Own Love Again is proof of not only Pratt’s ability to craft an album on command and not simply piece it together over time, but also to be able to do it well. There are no jitters or missteps on On Your Own Love Again; it’s an album of puzzle-piece precision.
As for what makes her great, maybe she best describes it on “Game That I Play”: “People’s faces blend together like a watercolor you can’t remember in time,” she sings. Pratt’s songs are these faces, these paintings, evocative and generous, familiar while remaining her own. In this game that she plays, she wins every time.
Essential Tracks: “Game That I Play”, “Jacquelyn in the Background”, and “Back, Baby”