Jessica Pratt @ The Casbah
Whenever a singer/songwriter makes it on to the national new music radar screen it is an impressive feat because there are so damn many singer/songwriters out there. Trying to distinguish oneself as a solo singer/songwriter is something like trying to get picked for American Idol: Good...fucking...luck. So even though I'm not a fan of the genre, I notice when a "basic" singer songwriter makes it onto the radar screen.
For Jessica Pratt, that happened late last year when her self titled debut LP got a solid Pitchfork review. (1) Something to consider when an Artist operating in such a crowded field "makes it" is that Pitchfork classifies review by GENRE- they themselves say that the Best New Music distinction is based on an Artist transcending their genre/s, so that must follow for the selection of album reviews themselves: i.e. that they represent the best of their particular genre. (2)
Thus, the most impressive achievements are artists who emerge out of crowded genres, and there is no genre that is more crowded and less popular on an Artist by Artist basis then singer/songwriter.
One song is all that it took to establish that Pratt is a talented, accomplished singer/songwriter. One of the aesthetic qualities that I look for is delicacy/fragility. If you listen to Top 40 music, it is crystal clear that delicacy/fragility is frowned upon as an aesthetic quality. Top 40 music is inevitably the opposite of fragile and delicate. Pratt doesn't have a fragile voice, but her music has a fragile quality that really connected with me and my aesthetic values.
For me, the essence of DIY is the idea that it could disappear at any minute; that you need to enjoy something right now because it may never return. Jessica Pratt successfully engaged that emotion last night and I was deeply impressed by her performance- she is worth checking out on tour.