June was a busy month for Cary Pratt. The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, better known for his work under the name Prairie Cat, released his fourth album, Is Cary Pratt, to warm reviews. He also went on a tour covering most of eastern Canada to promote it, performing in Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, and all three Maritime provinces.
I had the treat of seeing Pratt at one of two Toronto dates on the tour. It was an intimate show at the Monarch Tavern, a hidden-away speakeasy on the outskirts of Toronto's Little Italy. A mellow, low-key show, Pratt lived up the the one man band billing as he performed vocals from behind a drum kit and keyboard.
His music is a nostalgic brand of soft pop, markedly influenced by the past but never derivative. He was quoted on his musical ambitions in a recent Toronto Star article:
“I write and record music that aims to attract listeners who have trouble relating to the mainstream or the über-indie. I use familiar themes and tones while bending traditional music convention in order to (incite) nostalgia while still trying to create a style that sounds new and interesting. Humour and sarcasm disarm heavy subject matter and visually I always try to keep things light.”
Pratt made his name as a drummer in British Columbia in the 90's, but soon found that he wanted more creative control over his work.
“As a drummer you’re always at the whim of when temperamental songwriters feel like writing songs and playing shows. They go through their trials and tribulations, and you’re sort of just there,” Pratt recently said to beatroute.ca.
A thoroughly professional effort, Is Cary Pratt is a great example of what can happen when unconventional artists riff on traditional music. It probably isn't for everyone, but it hits all its marks.
Post by Dan Goldsmith