Jessica Pratt : New Single : Life is
Out May 3rd
And Releases “Life Is” Single/Video
Jessica Pratt announces her fourth album, Here in the Pitch, out May 3rd via City Slang, and releases the lead single/video, “Life Is.” Additionally, Pratt announces a tour this spring and summer throughout Europe, UK and the USA. Over the last 12 years, the revered Los Angeles artist has become one of the most singular songwriters of her generation, largely through the mystical, elusive blend of just her delicate acoustic guitar and breathtaking vocals. Here in the Pitch, however, is a very different kind of album from Pratt and features some of her most adventurous music yet. She envisioned a more expansive set of influences—“big panoramic sounds that make you think of the ocean and California”— and throughout these nine songs, timpani, glockenspiel, baritone saxophone, and flute are layered alongside robust vocal arrangements that create a triumphant mood, even when the lyrics hint at devastation.
This broader production palette is immediately apparent on the haunting album opener and first single, “Life Is.” A percussion roll nods to the grand, orchestral style of ’60s pop hits like the Walker Brothers’ “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” “In a way, it’s kind of a false flag,” Pratt admits of this widescreen introduction to the album, considering the rest of the record is just as emotionally intimate and stark as fans have come to expect. “But I also feel like it’s a statement of intention.” Meanwhile, the lyrics are an impressionistic paean to the vagaries of ambition. “Life came and went and you didn’t land where you thought you would,” Pratt says of the song. “It’s the third act and you’re trying to climb back on the horse before it gets dark.” The mesmerizing video, co-directed by Colby Droscher and Pratt, was shot around New York City in late 2023 and looks to films of Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakhage for inspiration.
Five years after her 2019 breakthrough album Quiet Signs, Pratt has re-emerged with new ambition and new parameters for what her music can be. Working once again at Gary’s Electric Studio in Brooklyn with her trusted collaborators — multi-instrumentalist/engineer Al Carlson and keyboardist Matt McDermott — Pratt enlisted the rhythm duo of bassist Spencer Zahn and percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne, Atoms for Peace) to help realize her vision, alongside contributions from Ryley Walker, Peter Mudge (Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar), and Alex Goldberg.
If Pratt’s early albums—2012’s word-of-mouth favorite Jessica Pratt and 2015’s devastatingly beautiful On Your Own Love Again—seemed beamed in from a dimly lit bedroom somewhere in the distant past, these songs stand on more solid ground. The tone can range from comforting and even chipper (“When you’ve fallen out, get both feet on the ground,” she reassures during the chiming chorus of “Life Is”) to a malevolent quality that feels entirely new in her songbook.
“I became obsessed with figures emblematic of the dark side of the Californian dream while making this record,” Pratt explains, noting the influence of Los Angeles’ strange, seedy history and the bleak end of the hippy era. You can hear this playfully villainous perspective emerging in her imagistic lyrics, although the clearest shift is in her vocal performance. While Pratt admits to always seeking inspiration from voices that sound like they’ve been “drug through life,” she worked on these songs to develop a fuller, more physical style that draws from the dignified baritone of Scott Walker and the weathered theatrics of latter-day Judy Garland.
If a sense of hope is clear in Pratt’s words, it’s even clearer in her performance: placing her voice at the forefront and creating an emotional immediacy that sets this record apart from all her past work. “I never wanted it to take this long. I’m just a real perfectionist,” she explains of the album’s long gestation, which spanned from summer 2020 to the spring of 2023. “I was just trying to get the right feeling, and it takes a long time to do that.” With Here in the Pitch, Pratt comes as close as she ever has to this feeling of perfection, to music you can reach out and touch in the air around you, to summoning with every note the hope and mystery, the horror and romance, that lingers within the silence. Through these songs, she suggests those qualities are precisely what keeps us listening, over and over again, on the edge of our seats.