On her third studio album, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt comes forward with what may be her strongest project yet. Quiet Signs is a reverie of folk-psychedelia that elicits a feeling of “I’ve been here before.” It takes you back in time, to somewhere strange, yet familiar.
From the simple, fingerpicked guitar playing to Pratt’s classical vocals, the album has a vintage feel that makes it a perfect passive listen. That’s not to say that the album doesn’t have any immersive moments on it — tracks like “Poly Blue” demand the listener’s attention.
Pratt’s unusual and captivating voice is an oddity among contemporary music, evoking the spirit of ’60s yé-yé pop. Her chamber-folk style is sometimes reminiscent of Nico, like on the slow-burning “As The World Turns“.
About halfway through the album, the gorgeous “Poly Blue” appears with this whimsical flute melody. “He’s the lovelorn colors of / Somewhat hapless in his touch / He’s the undiscovered night, a parting line,” she sings, an ode to awkward love.
“This Time Around” takes on a darker tone, with its haunting vocals, layered with plenty of reverb. It’s nostalgic, like an old jukebox tune. The pain and feeling of hopelessness — the deepening of Pratt’s voice when she utters “it makes me want to cry” makes for a truly mesmerizing song.
The following track, “Crossing” is stunningly old-fashioned to the point that it doesn’t feel like it’s from this decade, or even the last century.
A personal favorite is the closer, “Aeroplane” which feels indebted to The Velvet Underground, with its tambourine opening and psychedelic undertones.
Quiet Signs isn’t incredibly dense — in fact, it’s a record that can easily be listened to just as mood-setting background music. At just 28 minutes, it does feel faint, and at times, underdeveloped.
What Quiet Signs offers, beyond its pretty, vintage aesthetic, is the ability to “get lost” for a short period of time. Amidst the reverb, and at times, unintelligible lyrics, Quiet Signs offers an escape to somewhere else, where everything is a little less clear.