Feel like getting confessional? You’ve come to the right place. Each of the songs this week in some way examine the human condition. Jessica Pratt gives us a haunting track on taking it all in, as she finds herself literally suspended above the ground in “Aeroplane.” Up and coming British Country Music maven Yola mines her immense life experience to contemplate what may be going on behind anyone’s “Faraway Look.” Nineteen year old singer songwriter/spoken word poet Christinna O meditates on her worth in “Shelter,” and I’m fairly certain most of us can relate to her subtly powerful lyrics. We wrap it all up with a classic from the QUEEN of psychologically exploratory song writing, Joni Mitchell.
Jessica Pratt – “Aeroplane”
Jessica Pratt has been said to consider the just released Quiet Signs her most cohesive work to date. It’s her third record, but the first to be recorded in a professional studio setting. After what seems like a career consisting of happy accidents – her first album was a collection of demos, her second (but first intentional album) was recorded in her bedroom – Quiet Signs does feel like quite a bold progression. She’s spoken of considering the audience and the process more on this release, and that is very apparent especially with this closing track “Aeroplane.” The electronic score of the piece slowly builds to a shimmer that embodies the “city lights” on which Pratt finds herself reflecting. It’s a showstopper imploded, drawing you into it’s muted atmosphere just as easily if not more so than any larger than life number.
Yola – “Faraway Look”
Though the lineup for this year’s World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl contains so many of my favorite artists – Toro y Moi, Natalia Lafourcade, Michael Kiwanuka, etc. – the name I was most excited to see was Yola. Walk Through Fire is an apt title for her Dan Auerbach produced debut. Though Yola is a name and voice that we may just be getting acquainted with here in the States, she’s already overcome many challenges in her early years (including stress induced voice loss). Since then, she’s found herself contributing to pop hits, counting James Brown as a fan, and joining Massive Attack for a spell. “Faraway Look” distills all of this and more into a bombastic countrified soul ballad that demands you immediate attention. Yola will open the World Fest performance ahead of Shakey Graves and Lord Huron on Sunday August 4th so be sure to make it out early for that one. Something tells me it won’t be long before she’s able to sell out a venue like the Bowl all on her own.
Christinna O – “Shelter”
Ever since Christinna O’s single came into my life about a month ago, I feel like I’ve been singing the praises of this 19 year old singer/songwriter/poet to anyone who will listen. It’s only natural then, that I would finally bring it here to you. I love this song. The instrumentation and production are spare, letting O’s voice and lyrics – which are equal parts vulnerable and empowered – shine. She’s been recording and releasing her own music on Soundcloud for awhile now, but will finally see her first proper release in the form of the Girl in Passing EP which is due out sometime in the Spring.
Joni Mitchell – “Court & Spark”
I find that it’s best to live by the philosophy that if you write a semi-weekly music column, and the name Joni Mitchell appears in your inbox anytime around the writing of said column, it’s best to feature some Joni Mitchell. No questions asked. The occasion for her name to be in my inbox is the forthcoming album release of her 75th birthday concert which took place this past November. That album, which features tributes from Rufus Wainwright, Chaka Khan, Emmylou Harris and many other living legends will be out on March 8th. In the meantime, take a moment of zen with the song that made 16 year old me – like many a teenage girl before and after me – realize that I would from then on be obsessed with Joni Mitchell.
Jessica Pratt carousel image by Guillaume Belvez, Yola feature image by Alysse Gafkjen