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Low Ticket Warning!

WXPN Welcomes Jessica Pratt

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Friday, July 26, 2024
Doors: 7pm | Show: 8pm
$25 - $32 advance | $28 - $35 day of show

VENUE INFO – PLEASE READ!

  • This is a ticketed event. Everyone must have a ticket for entry.
  • Join us before the show for dinner & drinks in The Lounge, our full-service restaurant & bar on the upstairs level which opens at 6pm. View menu & make a reservation.
  • Mezzanine ticket holders are seated on the balcony overlooking the main stage, with access to a private bar, restrooms, and dining area where you can order from The Lounge menu.
  • If you require accessible seating and none is available online, please contact us at boxoffice@worldcafelive.com or 215-222-1400 prior to the show so we can best accommodate your needs.
  • Join the WCL Fan Club for priority entry, food & merch discounts, exclusive offers, and more. Mega & Ultimate Fan levels include 24-hour presale access and no ticket fees.
  • World Cafe Live is a nonprofit independent venue where artistry meets social impact. Every purchase helps support our music education & community programs.
  • See FAQ for more information.
From the opening seconds of “Life Is,” itʼs clear that Here in the Pitch is a very different kind of album from Jessica Pratt. The revered Los Angeles artist has become one of the most singular and distinctive songwriters of her generation, largely through the bewitching sound of her acoustic guitar and vocals: a mystical, elusive blend that conjures deep emotional responses from her devoted (and patient) audience. To introduce her first release in half-a-decade, however, we are greeted by neither her breathtaking vocals nor the delicate, sophisticated strum of her guitar. Instead, Prattʼs fourth album begins with a percussion roll that nods instantly to the grand, orchestral style of ʼ60s pop hits like the Walker Brothersʼ “The Sun Ainʼt Gonna Shine Anymore.” “In a way, itʼs kind of a false flag,” Pratt admits of this introduction, considering the rest of the record is just as emotionally intimate and stark as fans have come to expect. “But I also feel like itʼs a statement of intention.”

Indeed, five years after her breakthrough album, 2019ʼs Quiet Signs—which marked her first time working in a studio after years of home-recording— Pratt has re-emerged with new ambition and new parameters for what her music can be. Working once again at Garyʼs Electric Studio in Brooklyn, NY, with her trusted collaborators—multi-instrumentalist/engineer Al Carlson and keyboardist Matt McDermott—Pratt enlisted the rhythm duo of bassist Spencer Zahn and percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne, Atoms for Peace) to help realize her vision. “Having done a studio record prior, I learned how to get to the things you want and how to communicate it to people,” she says. “The process this time was less about exploration of a new tool and more about taking what I learned and going further.”

Pratt quickly envisioned a more expansive set of influences—“big panoramic sounds that make you think of the ocean and California”—and the results are evident in the dynamic repertoire of instruments accompanying her graceful, dreamlike melodies. Throughout these nine songs, you will hear timpani and glockenspiel, baritone saxophone and flute alongside robust, layered vocal arrangements that create a triumphant mood, even when the lyrics hint at devastation.

To achieve this sense of musical resilience, Pratt cites Pet Sounds as her “north star” in pursuing a fuller production style. But where plenty of artists look to the Beach Boysʼ 1966 landmark as the untouchable precedent for symphonic grandeur, Pratt found herself drawn to the shadowy outskirts of those recordings. “Itʼs the atmospheric silence,” she explains. “There are times when you feel like youʼre just hearing the studio for a moment. Those were always so intriguing for me as a young person, feeling like you could reach out and touch the texture of the sound in the air.” If Prattʼs early albums—2012ʼs word-of-mouth favorite Jessica Pratt and 2015ʼs devastatingly beautiful On Your Own Love Again—seemed beamed in from a dimly lit bedroom somewhere in the distant past, these songs stand on more solid ground. The tone can range from comforting and even chipper (“When youʼve fallen out, get both feet on the ground,” she reassures during the chiming chorus of “Life Is”) to a haunted, malevolent quality that feels entirely new in her songbook.

“I became obsessed with figures emblematic of the dark side of the Californian dream while making this record,” Pratt explains, noting the influence of Los Angelesʼ strange, seedy history and the bleak end of the hippy era. This creeping doom and illumination is palpable in the twisted bossa nova groove of “By Hook or by Crook” and the cryptic, antagonistic lyrics on the otherwise sunny, Laurel Canyon-influenced “Better Hate.” “I spend a lot of time worrying and imagining bad things happening,” Pratt confesses. “So maybe the idea of creatively inhabiting a character who wields the power is interesting.” You can hear this playfully villainous perspective emerging in her imagistic lyrics, although the clearest shift is in her vocal performance. While Pratt admits to always seeking inspiration from voices that sound like theyʼve been “drug through life,” she worked on these songs to develop a fuller, more physical style that draws from the dignified baritone of Scott Walker and the weathered theatrics of latter-day Judy Garland. Exploring her lower register on the dazzling “World on a String” and the otherworldly piano ballad “Empires Never Know,” esoteric themes and influences led to her most adventurous music yet.

Nowhere is Prattʼs evolution clearer than on the closing track, “The Last Year,” which ranks among her most gorgeous and bittersweet compositions to date: a song that feels like it could have existed in the Great American Songbook for ages. “I think itʼs gunna be fine/I think weʼre gunna be together/And the storyline goes forever,” she sings, tapping into a universal resolution that offers what she calls a “weird optimism” at the end of a record that leads down some admittedly dark roads. (The “pitch” in Here in the Pitch refers to both “pitch darkness” and bitumen, the black viscous substance that forms deep below the surface of the earth.)

If a sense of hope is clear in Prattʼs words, itʼs even clearer in her performance: placing her voice at the forefront and creating an emotional immediacy that sets this record apart from all her past work. “I never wanted it to take this long. Iʼm just a real perfectionist,” she explains of the albumʼs long gestation, which spanned from summer 2020 to the spring of 2023. “I was just trying to get the right feeling, and it takes a long time to do that.” With Here in the Pitch, Pratt comes as close as she ever has to this feeling of perfection, to music you can reach out and touch in the air around you, to summoning with every note the hope and mystery, the horror and romance, that lingers within the silence. Through these songs, she suggests those qualities are precisely what keeps us listening, over and over again, on the edge of our seats. —Sam Sodomsky

In March 2023, @ turned heads with their debut album Mind Palace Music that utilized an array of acoustic instrumentation and densely layered harmonies, like the great outsider folk records of the 60s and 70s and placed it in a modern setting. If Mind Palace Music was @ playing on story mode, their new EP Are You There God? It’s Me, @ is the darker, stranger side quest. Mind Palace Music was written in very specific circumstances. The band was formed while they were confined to their homes during quarantine — Victoria Rose in Philadelphia and Stone Filipczak in Baltimore — exchanging musical sketches over iMessage and email. Even though the world has opened back up and they’ve been able to play together live, this EP was again created remotely while in their respective cities. What did change, however, was the production. Are You There God? It’s Me, @ is @’s foray into electronic music — consisting primarily of software instrumentation (with the occasional flute, guitar or bass part sprinkled in). The band’s experience producing in this style was minimal, but they found the new process to be a rewarding exercise allowing them to explore new textures and structures made possible by computer music. Where their previous acoustic recordings had a looser and more human feel, these new songs allowed them to experiment with autotune and quantized beats. Rose was able to resurrect her passion for classical choir by singing and recording a capella vocal arrangements to be incorporated into Filipczak’s instrumentals.