Jessica Pratt – The Tuning Fork December 17, 2015


DSC_9402San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt cast her spell over Auckland’s Tuning Fork, just 11 months after she did the same at the Golden Dawn. In the interim she has released a new album and picked up an additional guitarist.

Yes, Jessica was spellbinding, but before we get to her, let me just say a few things about opening act Shab Orkestra. They are two guys from Auckland, Steven Huf and Alexander Brown, who are making some seriously interesting music.

The duo comes with an array of brass, woodwind and percussion instruments and the songs, such as they are, are mostly instrumental. The two very talented musicians combine their live performances on, say, trumpet and clarinet or French horn, with recorded loops, building complex and thrilling soundscapes. Even you haven’t caught them around town, I urge you to do so.

When Jessica Pratt was last in Auckland, in January, she was just kicking off a tour that would take the better part of a year and would find her playing the final show of that tour back in Auckland at the Tuning Fork. Her second album, On Your Own Love Again, was released just a week or so after her first Auckland appearance and is full of the same shimmering, dreamy folk songs that made up her 2012 self-titled debut.

Since then Pratt has added an electric guitarist to her act, a gentleman named Cyrus Gengras. But don’t worry, there were no histrionic displays of guitar shredding on display here. Instead, Gengras added lightly strummed chords and luminous notes that complimented Pratt’s own acoustic guitar and her child-like voice.

The set itself was short and sweet…11 songs, eight of them from the new album. She opened with the ethereal Wrong Hand and followed it with a slightly more upbeat tune, the unrecorded Central Park. The mood was hushed and intimate and Jessica spoke only briefly and quietly throughout the set that lasted less than 50 minutes.

She noted that this was the last show of her year-long tour, mentioned something about classical musicians looking cool when tuning their instrument…there was quite a bit of tuning…and shared a brief story about someone she worked  with at a record store, but otherwise focussed on her music.

Jacquelyn In The Background was filled with sadness and regret while Game That I Play featured fanciful lyrics such as, “People’s faces blend together like watercolor you can’t remember in time”.

Back, Baby, is the closest Pratt gets to a pop song…the bouncy number carrying memorable hook.

Cyrus left the stage after On Your Own Love Again, leaving Jessica to close out the show alone. She reached back to her debut album for Titles Under Pressure and then Night Faces, the first track from the first album.

And that was it. It was almost like a dream…wispy, wistful and wonderful.

Marty Duda

Click here to watch Jessica Pratt’s 13th Floor Video Session.

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:

Jessica Pratt set list:

  1. Wrong Hand
  2. Central Park
  3. Greycedes
  4. Game That I Play
  5. Jacquelyn In The Background
  6. Moon Dude
  7. Back, Baby
  8. On Your Own Love Again
  9. I’ve Got A Feeling
  10. Titles Under Pressure
  11. Night Faces