“Known Objects” – Rebecca Pronsky
“Known Objects” is Rebecca Pronsky’s fourth album; it’s eclectic, experimental and packed full of more interesting ideas than most mainstream artists pack in to an entire career (and that’s all squeezed into ten songs). Along with her performing and producing partner, guitarist Rich Bennett, she set up a studio and music education space in Brooklyn last year and this album, originally planned as a duo project was recorded there. When you throw the sheer volume of ideas into a project that Rebecca and Rich have done, there’s a risk that not all of them will resonate with every listener, but more about that later.
The album bounces confidently from style to style, opening with psychedelic and melodic bass on the incredibly catchy “Bag of Bones”, moving through the mid-tempo, piano-led FM rock of “Nothing Yet” to “Did You Know”, featuring horns that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bacharach song. So you know by now to expect the unexpected. If you have a look at her top albums the Bio section of her website you’ll spot a few people who have influenced the album (Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega for starters), but the album’s only cover is a bit of a surprise. The Blue Nile song “Heatwave” is given a fascinating makeover, using plucked piano strings as part of the backing track, which gives the song a unique personal stamp while still sounding very much like a Blue Nile song.
“Blue Skies” features a string quartet, some interesting vocals and the only part of the album that I found difficult to listen to as, towards the end of the, song Rebecca’s voice moves effortlessly up through her range to the point where it’s almost shrill. It didn’t work for me, but it’s only a few seconds of the whole album, and you might love it. The album ends in a more traditional reflective singer/songwriter style with the lament “A.E.”, inspired by Amelia Earhart, and the haunting “No Matter” bringing things to a downbeat close.
“Known Objects” is a very good album, taking nine originals and one cover and giving them widely varying musical settings to create a satisfying whole.
“Known Objects” is released in the UK on June 10th on Acme Hall Studios (AHR 0100).
As an added bonus, here’s the official video for “Shadow”: