Jessica Pratt, Matchess | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt

Colby Droscher

Jessica Pratt, Matchess 

When: Wed., May 6, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $12, $10 in advance
On her fantastic second album, On Your Own Love Again (Drag City), gentle singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt buries melodic sophistication and a deeper sense of mystery beneath basic-yet-glistening acoustic-guitar arpeggios and murky tape hiss. On the most superficial level I understand why she’s lumped in with other freak-folk singers (she does vaguely recall the music of Fred Neil or Sibylle Baier), but that assignation is ultimately inaccurate. Her remarkable melodies—which reveal their richness slowly, layer upon layer—inventively reference all sorts of pop modes. The lonesome wordless hook on “Strange Melody” channels Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf,” while “Back, Baby” boasts a kind of Brill Building elegance. She consistently does weird things with her voice, like forcing its high-pitched reediness into a distant valley, or singing with strangely deployed foreign accents. She’ll also manipulate a four-track to push her voice in alternate directions, thus creating a male duet partner with a giddy sprite. Pratt opens her irresistible “Game That I Play” with the evocative couplet, “People’s faces blend together like a watercolor / You can’t remember in time,” and it perfectly sets the tone for tunes both otherworldly and familiar. And with each spin the record has become more like a friend as my imagination sketches out the sparse arrangements. —Peter Margasak

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