Prairie Cat @ Little Mountain Studios, 12/2/09

Prairie Cat @ Little Mountain Studios, 12/2/09
Yesterday, Cary Pratt released It Began/Ended with Sparks, his second album under the moniker Prairie Cat. To celebrate the occasion, the singer/keyboardist played an intimate set at Little Mountain Studios to a crowd of a few dozen friends and fans.

Pratt began the evening with an unreleased song, a heart-wrenching breakup ballad that he described as being about Scattergories. He was joined by backing musicians on cello and glockenspiel, their delicate arrangement perfectly suited to the poignant subject matter. For the rest of the set, Pratt was accompanied by a full band that included Bend Sinister‘s Dan Moxon on guitar and Said the Whale‘s Spencer Scnoening on drums. Pratt acted as conductor, shouting out cues (“Here it comes!”) and even turning around in his stool to give directions. The band sounded tight—an impressive feat considering that the players were assembled especially for the event—and the inclusion of a trumpet player meant that all the songs lived up to the lush studio versions.

Considering that the show was a CD release party, the set was surprisingly heavy on old material; Pratt played more songs from 2007′s Attacks! than he did the new disc, including a version of “Better Friends Than Lovers” during which he performed a syncopated cowbell solo. Of the new material, “Just Cuz” was the highlight, triumphant trumpet flourishes offsetting the sombre lyrics about a relationship past its expiration date.

Although the band had already played all the songs it rehearsed, Pratt & co. were called back for an encore, giving them the opportunity to perform the Attacks! favourite “Payin’ the Rent.” Despite the fact that the band hadn’t even planned on playing the song, it was still a remarkably clean version, its sudden build-ups and jazzy breakdowns all perfectly timed. If there had been any skeptics in attendance (which is unlikely, considering the crowd), it ensured that everyone went home knowing why Pratt is one of the city’s wittiest and most tuneful songwriters.
 
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