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Julia Pratt Untangles the Destruction of Her Family on New EP ‘Family Feud’

Applying R&B techniques to indie-folk, and her sky-grazing storytelling

Philadelphia’s Julia Pratt jus released her new EP Family Feud via RECORDS. Pratt bares her most core anguish through music, from the destruction of her family, to her lived experiences as a woman of color, in hopes that dissecting her heart for all to see gives others the courage to feel less alone. While applying R&B techniques to indie-folk, her sky-grazing storytelling, in her voices from childhood to the present, exists as a deeply necessary form of therapy; one that doesn’t keep her dwelling on the past, but propels her forward as she heals.

Opening with “Visions,” Pratt makes it clear that she has every intention of showing the darkest corners of her psyche. Over a fingerpicked campfire acoustic guitar, she sings about fearing death and how all-consuming her OCD was as a child. “I was plagued with the fear that something would happen to my mom if I did anything wrong, and that anything that happened to her would be my fault,” she recollects. “‘Visions’ explores this voice, and foreshadows the death of my childhood and life as I knew it.”

Moving into the rippling “Bull In A China Shop,” Pratt shifts to the voice of her teenage self. “Marked as the scapegoat of the family, I’ve struggled my whole life to see myself outside of this role. In this song I explore my relationships with my parents, substances, mental illness, and myself as I navigate the internalized labels that my family placed on me in my youth.”

On “Carolina,” Julia Pratt folds all of her history into a haunting song about returning to someone, something, someplace you used to love, but just can’t seem to recognize anymore. The song’s layered exploration of identity, of what it means to be a daughter grown and changed, of searching for home, matches the echoey wordless harmonies and loping guitar. 

A foil to “Carolina,” “Chronos, Cruel Handler” is named for the ancient Greek mythological symbol of time. “[This song] arose from thinking about generational trauma and about my father. In this song I contrast our upbringings, and unpack the cycle that has repeated in both of our lives — the cycle that has most likely repeated over and over again in the lives of those that came before us as well.” 

Closing the EP now in her adult voice, “Michael” is an angelic ballad addressed to her father. “My dad missed many of the pivotal moments in my life that have made me who I am today, and I wanted to lay it all bare and get him up to date. My letter is a mixture of anger, resentment, and pain — but ultimately also forgiveness and acceptance. I learned that the only way I can move forward is to be completely honest about how I feel towards my dad, so this song marks how I felt when I wrote it.”

From front to back, Family Feud sees Julia Pratt grow up over the course of five songs. Painfully transparent in delivery, the EP pulls no punches when it comes to familial relationships, but Pratt notes that even that is a part of the healing process. “My goal with this project was just to share my truth, and [my father] was very accepting of that,” she says. “I never wanted to be malicious, but this is my assessment, with all of the compassion I have for his story and life.”

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