Transfigurations III: Celebrating 15 Years of
Harvest Records presents:
KEVIN MORBY (solo) / WAXAHATCHEE (solo) /Jessica Pratt
August 23, 2019
Theatre Doors: 5:30 PM
Show: 6:00 PM
Tickets: $27 Advance; $30 Door
Click here to learn more about Transfigurations III show on August 24th!
With his four acclaimed solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has become a true musical auteur. His singular vision, evocative lyrics, and aptitude for catchy, dense songwriting has placed him firmly among the ranks of modern icons like Bill Callahan, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, Will Oldham, and Jeff Tweedy. Each Morby record possesses its own unique persona and explores intriguing themes and fertile terrain through shifting, focused textures and dexterous, dedicated skill. And now, with the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God, Morby delivers a grandiose director’s cut of his biggest statement to date, epic in scope as well as sound.
On September 7, Katie Crutchfield’s ever-shifting musical project Waxahatchee returned with the Great Thunder EP. Featuring a collection of songs written with now-dormant experimental recording group Great Thunder while Crutchfield was also writing the Waxahatchee albums Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp, the original recordings have mostly faded into obscurity. Unearthing and reimagining them with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin was a cathartic experience, she says.
On the heels of last year’s critically acclaimed Out in the Storm, Crutchfield found herself looking to take a sharp turn away from the more rock-oriented influences of her recent records towards her more folk and country roots. “I would say that it is a complete 180 from the last record: super stripped-down, quiet, and with me performing solo, it’s a throwback to how I started,” writes Crutchfield. “Overall, the EP is a warm, kind of vibey recording.”
Some of the songs on Great Thunder, like “Chapel of Pines” and “Singer’s No Star,” stayed the same and will be recognizable to those intensely familiar with Crutchfield’s catalog to date, while closer “Takes So Much” was built back up on piano from the bones of the original version, surprising even the songwriter: “Until then, I didn’t realize how beautiful this song was.” As Crutchfield entered April Base to record, she became ill but opted to forge on, beautifully stretching her voice to its emotional limits.
Jessica Pratt is not a loud performer. She does not have to be. In a club of a few hundred, even the bar staff are known to go quiet while she’s on stage. Her third album, Quiet Signs, feels like a distillation of this power. The album leads off with “Opening Night,” a nod to Gena Rowlands’ harrowing, brilliant performance in the John Cassavetes film of the same name. It’s also an emblem of where this spare, mysterious collection of songs falls in the course of Pratt’s career.
“On some level I considered an audience while making the last record (2015’s On Your Own Love Again),” she writes, “But my creative world was still very private then and I analyzed the process less. This was the first time I approached writing with the idea of a cohesive record in mind.”
After a collection of demos and early studio recordings (Jessica Pratt, Birth Records, 2012) earned her a small, dedicated audience, Pratt moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles and recorded her first intentional album in her bedroom in a matter of months. That album, On Your Own Love Again (Drag City, 2015), would bring her around the world many times, leading many to fall under the spell of Jessica Pratt the performer, the songwriter, the singer with the heavy-lidded voice that feels alien and familiar at the same time.
Her first album fully recorded in a professional studio setting, Quiet Signs finds Pratt’s songwriting and accompanying guitar work refined—more distinct and direct. Songs like “Fare Thee Well” and “Poly Blue” retain glimmers of OYOLA‘s hazy day afternoon spells, yet delicate flute, strings sustained by organ arrangements, and rehearsal room piano now gesture towards the lush chamber pop and longing of The Left Banke. On the album’s first single, “This Time Around,” Pratt hits on a profound, late-night clarity over just a couple of deep chords, evoking Caetano Veloso’s casual seaside brilliance. And before the curtain drops on Quiet Signs, Pratt provides a show-stopping closer, “Aeroplane.”
In the world of Quiet Signs, the black of night usually represents fear, despair, resignation; finally at home descending towards the illuminated city, she sings over black leather drone and tambourine shuffle with a newfound resolve. Quiet Signs is the journey of an artist emerging from the darkened wings, growing comfortable as a solitary figure on a sprawling stage.
The album was written in Los Angeles and recorded at Gary’s Electric in Brooklyn, NY over 2017 and 2018. It was co-produced by Al Carlson. He plays flute, organ and piano on some songs. Matt McDermott also played piano and string synthesizer. It will be released on Mexican Summer on February 8, 2019.