No take backs

I don’t know if I’ve heard a voice quite like Jessica Pratt’s before. But here’s the recipe for the sound that gets you pretty close:

  • One teaspoon of Joan Baez
  • A splash of Adrianne Lenker
  • Two dashes of Joni Mitchell
  • A pinch of Angel Olsen
  • A sprinkle of Joanna Newsom 

And voila! That’s one manic pixie dream girl salad. Jessica Pratt’s music fits somewhere nicely between those artists (all excellent company to keep, btw), leaning more ethereal folk, and the result is nothing short of lovely. 

Hers are the kind of songs that make you stop and sink deeper into those feels. Calling them sad is reductive – they’re delicate, soft, beautiful. 

This is true regardless of the emotional opening lyric to “Back, Baby”: “Sometimes I pray for the rain,” she sings. We start to get the reason in the first verse:

You know I try, to see things from your side
To leave things undefined
But where would you advise?
That I generate a new design
For the missing piece I had to disguise
Saw a paper with the header that your love is just a myth I devised

There’s balanced reasoning, maybe even lowkey mind-games, the speaker is playing with themselves here.  

Reasonably, she is attempting to empathize. But believing requires faith, which may no longer be possible given the “disguise,” the “design” (so calculated), the “myth” of this once-wonderful union. 

She sets us up for a number of If-Then conditional statements – but we never get to the then. She lets us down before we get there:

If there was a time
That you loved me
If there was a time
When you said that you want me to believe
But you can't go back, baby
Can't go back, baby
And sometimes I pray for the rain

Her sweet guitar finger-picks layered inside lush lyrics make this an especially dreamy tune.  

And speaking of dreamy, rain seems to open up time in this song. The element of water is a revitalization of some kind, and a necessary function of nature. Rain nourishes and feeds life. And why does Ms. Pratt, or the speaker, need rain? To bring a lost love back (our fave theme). 

Though there’s a desire to look back, it’s recognized this is not in the cards: “But things like that you can never take back again/ Things like that you can never take back again.” 

With this earworm repeated, there is an ominous point of no return – one particular breaking point – where feelings departed. This narrative leaves little room for second-chances:

Look so lovely but you’ll have to decide
If you could play it in reverse then you’d find
That you’d better reconsider all the love you took and then cast aside
But things like that you can never take back again

Why does this song start to sound like a comforting lullaby the more I listen to it? It might be a song about heartbreak, but it sure is delivered with calm, even-toned reservation. An ice queen!

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