Fledgling Artist Takes Wing In Self-possessed Debut
By Sydney Miller, Contributing Writer
Katie Pruitt’s debut LP Expectations is a masterfully crafted portrait of her recent life. Each song has its own arc that builds and resolves, starting with the first track, “Wishful Thinking,” a slow song which sits on a foundation of funky bass riffs and uses Pruitt’s vocal range to create a sorrowful and powerful melody.
But just as each song builds and swells, the album itself builds a narrative, swells with conflict, and settles down, much like Pruitt has been able to settle down with her girlfriend.
After “Wishful Thinking” comes “My Mind’s a Ship (That’s Going Down),” a song about moving on and coming back home, followed by the more resigned and determined “Expectations.” The guitar riffs fade in and out between beautifully delivered pearls of wisdom in her lyrics (“fear is just the false belief that there’s nothing you can do”). This track, one of the shortest and most instrumentally upbeat songs on the album, establishes Pruitt’s talent and confidence.
That talent and confidence continues on the next track, “Out of the Blue,” where Pruitt uses her masterful songwriting and amazing vocal range to create a rich experience for the listener.
The next three songs build off each other to show all the conflict Pruitt has been through, delivered first through the soft and acoustic “Normal,” a tribute to growing up gay in the South while attending Catholic school. The song prefigures the overall arc of the album; it begins with Pruitt singing, “If I could be normal, then trust me, I would,” and ending with, “The world told us to fit in / but we did the opposite.”
“Normal” is immediately followed by “Grace Has A Gun,” which is slightly more upbeat musically but much darker lyrically. The song starts out about a free-spirited and fierce girl, but by the end of the song, when Pruitt delivers the lyric, “She thought the scars on her arms means she’s in control / You thought you could convince her that’s it’s all in her head / Till you come home one night and the wall’s painted red,” she walks us through the realization that this girl has problems that no one person is going to be able to fix. After she delivers those somber lyrics, the music lifts and soars hauntingly, showing that not only is Pruitt a capable storyteller, but also has a strong grasp of how to use instruments to enhance the feelings she wants to evoke.
While “Grace Has A Gun” feels like the negative climax of the album, “Searching for the Truth” feels like the peaceful aftermath of the storm. Pruitt walks us through her realizations about the world, from wondering “Who’s the asshole that convinced us all that happiness isn’t free” to “argdth.”
After her epiphanies in “Searching for the Truth,” Pruitt turns to her past and her family. While “Normal” walks us through Pruitt’s realization that she was gay, “Georgia” takes us through her stress in coming out and her realization that her parents and Georgia hometown may not accept her, “But that’s where they’re wrong,” because “There is a place past the Georgia pines / where people welcome you with an open mind.”
As soon as “Georgia” ends, a twangy and upbeat riff takes us into “Loving Her,” the first truly cheerful song on the album and the beginning of the album’s last act on Pruitt’s road to self acceptance.
The final track, “It’s Always Been You,” is the love song Pruitt sings about being scared to write in “Loving Her,” full of quirky anecdotes about sword fighting with baguettes and small details that paint a picture of a loving relationship.
This isn’t an album made for someone else, or designed to get on the radio. The songs are all four to five minutes, but none of them feel too long. Pruitt takes time in each one to say exactly what she wants to say, because that’s who this album is for: her. She’s not bound to anyone else’s expectations. She’s created an album of beautiful and moving songs that chronicle her personal journey, and if she chooses to grace us with more of her art, it will most certainly be on her terms.