A few years ago, Jessica Pratt attended a screening of Opening Night, the 1977 cult classic film from director John Cassavetes. A gut-wrenching portrayal of the psychological nightmares that can go into sharing art with the world, the movie went on to become a source of inspiration as she wrote her upcoming third record, Quiet Signs (out February 8th via Mexican Summer/City Slang). “Sometimes when you see a film, especially an emotional, anguishing film like that, it can just simmer in your subconscious for a while,” Pratt says. “It definitely did that for me.”
The Los Angeles folk singer is chatting over a glass of wine at an old-fashioned, out-of-place bar in Queens, New York, when the topic comes up. Pratt describes herself as a “very anxious person,” and in conversation, she can be both self-deprecating and elusive. Opening for Kurt Vile in Brooklyn last month, she delivered a breathtaking set, featuring songs from her new album as well as her 2012 self-titled debut and her 2015 breakthrough, On Your Own Love Again. Among her only banter was a nod to the lighting crew, asking them to maybe chill out a little. “Can we keep the lights just one color,” she said dryly. “My brain can only handle so much.” They settled in response on a greenish hue.