Jessica Pratt–Back, Baby

 

There are albums and songs that see us through times of turmoil and strife, and in doing so become central to our personal dignity, to borrow a line from Scott Walker.

In fact, it was during a week of such awfulness that I first listened to Scott Walker.

My obsession with him was not immediate, and it really could have been that I might have rejected him completely for being associated with such an ugly era.

But that didn’t happen.

And slowly, I began to deeper and deeper into his music to the point where I am sure I play something by him almost every day.

About three years ago, I experienced even more profound difficulties in life, and it was at that time I discovered an album on Drag City by Jessica Pratt called On Your Own Love Again

The album is a fascinating one, mainly because of intriguing affectations, not just in the accent she assumes as she sings, but also the warp and weft of the 4-track machine that captured all the songs.

It is one of those albums that feels like a relic the moment you listen to it.

Something limned with nostalgia.

Not just hers; yours.

The experience of listening to it is akin to a fugue state for me, bringing to mind hazy summer afternoons and the otherworldly artistry of Nick Drake or Syd Barrett’s solo work.

Those comparisons may be a bit too enthusiastic for you, but understand that my critical acumen is impaired by the context in which I lived with this album.

In some ways, the ‘found footage’ video I stumbled upon for Back, Baby seemed more than appropriate, because the intimate hush and hiss of her 4-track recordings feel like something reclaimed from a musty attic.

Something overlooked that you discover by chance and share with the world.

For all the affectation of her singing or presentation, there is something delightfully unpretentious about her songwriting, something affecting and crystalline.

It’s kind of fitting that the lyric is an exercise in nostalgia, a remembrance of someone who loved her and wanted her, but is now gone.

Ultimately, Pratt determines there is no going back, or that any attempt to do so would only reinforce that the love she knew as a myth she devised.

The great irony is that I can go back to this song over and over, knowing my love for it and this album is no myth at all.

And while I first experienced it under mainly trying circumstances, it always feels like a kind of balm because we have so much shared history together, like it really knows what I’ve been through.

That’s my myth,

 

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