Cary Pratt is no new cat on the block. The seasoned Vancouver drummer and percussionist has worked with a reputable list of groups and individuals, among them Jason Zumpano of Destroyer, Juno Award-winning producer Russell Broom and engineer Tom Dobranski whose credits include The Zolas, Said the Whale and Hannah Georgas. Most recently, Pratt has played in party-pushing Vancouver band Pineapple, and though his Got Nothin’ 7” is short, it’s all “Prairie Cat” needs to show that his debut solo outing is no amateur effort.
Got Nothin’ is a snug little release. But just because something is cozy doesn’t mean it’s a fluff piece. “I could say one or two mean things / Make you slap my face / It would really sting, but / I could say one or two nice things / Make you fall in love / Make you hit the sheets,” title track “Got Nothin’” goes. But Pratt isn’t projecting cockiness or even false confidence; he’s just being honest. More than that, he’s aware of his polar capabilities. But the gravity of such introspections is easy to miss, all wrapped up in warm melodies like a comforter.
Pratt’s awareness of his capabilities extends more widely to his skills as a musician. Even with such a short release (hardly more than ten minutes long), Pratt shows signs that he could do a lot more – or that he even possibly did a lot more. These three songs (not including the twenty-second “Outro”, more a descriptor than a song name – more a sonic blip than a song) could easily flourish into full-blown power-pop especially when they pick up speed. But Pratt decides to scale them back to near jingle simplicity. Rattles could easily take over the airily strummed “Beautiful Baby”, composed of a few loosely arranged tracks. But Pratt restrains just enough that the rattles don’t overshadow the song more than any other part.
“Some Friends May Go” is even more withheld. It’s so bare, I can see Pratt do little more than effortlessly jam out this concise little tune by himself and call it a day.
Though I can’t speak for the claims of Electronic-Voice Phenomenon captured from an unidentified historic, haunted downtown Vancouver theatre where parts of Got Nothin’ were recorded, I can at least conjecture that more craft went into these songs than it may appear. Restraint is a virtue that’s increasingly difficult to practice in the age of ProTools and Garage Band; sometimes, it takes stripping back excess in order to write perfect pop songs. Given the three tracks Prairie Cat delivers on Got Nothin’, it seems Pratt has figured out this key to writing great pop music.
Got Nothin’ is an appetizer leading to Prairie Cat’s upcoming full-length album Who Knows Where To Begin?. Co-produced by Limblifter/Age of Electric’s Ryan Dahle, in addition to the many aforementioned talents, Who Knows Where To Begin? will place Prairie Cat in direct company with successful names such as Mother Mother and Hot Hot Heat.
Details are still up in the air regarding the new album, but for now, order Got Nothin’ from Triple Crown Audio Recordings of Canada, and get your choice of three different covers.