Andy Pratt

I'm Alright

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I'm Alright opens with an ominous song of "getting through it" that is the title track, one of the darkest tunes -- and sounds -- in the vast Andy Pratt repertoire. Where Cindy Bullens' "I'm a Survivor" shed all illusions of re-formation, her contemporary, Andy Pratt has too much compassion for the person obviously causing much pain. Like a postcard from the depths, the artist tells the individual in question that he's OK through it all, though the music seems to indicate otherwise. Reunited with Andy Pratt Band guitarist Mark Doyle, who produced and plays on this album, the two create something far removed from the complexities of the jazz/rock ensemble they toured with as well as the shimmering and glossy Christian albums recorded by the singer. This is Pratt's Plastic Ono Band slow-motion primal scream, spiraling into a psych-out medley of "19th Nervous Breakdown" and an original titled "Insanity," with Doyle's charged guitar lines reflecting just that. Longtime fans of Pratt always knew he flirted with the darker emotions, but here the exploration is more pronounced. It's like Phil Spector decided to crash these modern-day Plastic Ono Band sessions, here for volume three, but not as producer, more like the subject matter. "Cruel" picks up where Pratt's second album, the Columbia opus, left off. Bits of pop tunes from the past flavor this strip-downed journey into emotions, the guitar playing going from folk to country, and Pratt's unique voice still a thing of beauty and charm. There is respite with the visit to Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity," the 1961 hit unveiling a new Pratt willing to show us his ability to speak through other voices. "I Watch and Wait" is like an uptempo answer to the title track with a mini-hook of "It's alright", and the stereo mix in headphones full of swirling instruments is something just sublime. "Business as Usual" could be a protest about war, or war at home. "Mary (A Poem)" continues the eerie love lost concept with a pretty melody over Mark Doyle's light production. At first listen, the electronic drums are a bit tedious, but they fade into the background upon repeated spins, Pratt always able to craft creative and thought-provoking material; even when his music got too preachy, it still had elements other Christian artists failed to weave into the mix. The guitarist and singer collaborate on "I Don't Wanna Live Anymore," which brings Marc Bolan into the new millennium, quirky and wonderful stuff which sounds like it was inspired by T. Rex's The Slider album. Pratt has always lived in a musical universe parallel to another Boston musician, Willie "Loco" Alexander, and never has that similarity between the two keyboard players ever seemed more obvious. The pairing of these two musical geniuses is long overdue. Andy Pratt and Mark Doyle have a unique perspective on their Cover Me disc which reinvents popular tunes, but here the duo come up with a dazzling new direction for the artist, with "Change Your Mind" -- not a plea or a command -- but an irresistible call for someone to come back home. What is right about this album is that Andy Pratt has indeed come back to share his melodies and his thoughts with the world. While it seems throughout these compositions that he's been waiting for someone to return to him, he probably didn't realize how much his music was waiting for him to return to it as well.

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