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Katie Pruitt

Katie Pruitt is living proof of music’s power to transform the way we experience the world. Soon after the arrival of her acclaimed debut Expectations—a 2020 LP on which she documented her journey in growing up queer in the Christian South—the Georgia-bred singer/songwriter/guitarist heard from countless listeners that her songs had impacted their lives on an elemental level. With her sophomore album Mantras, the Nashville-based musician now looks inward to explore such matters as gender identity, self-compassion or the lack thereof, and the struggle for peace in times of chaos and uncertainty—ultimately arriving at a body of work that speaks to the strength in undoing harmful self-beliefs and fully living your truth.

Mainly produced by Collin Pastore and Jake Finch (known for their work with boygenius and Lucy Dacus), Mantras delves deeper into the empathetic storytelling and incisive self-examination that defined Expectations—an album that earned Pruitt a nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year from the Americana Music Association and drew praise from major outlets like Rolling Stone (who hailed Pruitt as a “dynamic new presence”) and Pitchfork (who noted that “[h]er songs are patient but determined, navigating serious subjects with quiet familiarity”). This time around, Pruitt sets her lived-in lyricism to a folk-leaning sound informed by her love for the more experimental edges of indie-rock, stacking her songs with plenty of propulsive grooves and overdriven guitars as well as working with musicians like string arranger Laura Epling (Orville Peck, Spencer Cullum).

Although several songs took shape with the help of co-writers like singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly (Bethany Cosentino, Amanda Shires), Pruitt wrote most of Mantras on her own and imbued her lyrics with an expansive element of autobiography. In penning the album-opening “All My Friends (Are Finding New Beliefs),” she mined inspiration from a Christian Wiman poem of the same name, dreaming up a fuzzed-out and summery track etched with both self-aware reflection and sharp-witted observation on the search for clarity and purpose. Next, on “White Lies, White Jesus and You,” Pruitt shares a hazy yet frenetic meditation on hypocrisy in religion, tapping into her intense frustration with conservative Christian ideology. A profoundly introspective album, Mantras turns the lens on her own inner life with songs like “Self Sabotage”—a gloriously cathartic track that opens up about her struggle with negative thought loops. Meanwhile, on “Blood Related,” Pruitt presents a raw but poetic rumination on how family can sometimes feel like strangers, enlisting her mother as a background vocalist and embedding the track with audio recordings of her father and brother from old home videos. And while Mantras often pushes into emotionally heavy terrain, its songs frequently echo the radiant sense of joy and discovery that defined the album-making process. On “Naive Again,” for instance, Pruitt infuses the bright and dreamy tones of glockenspiel and xylophone into her melancholy contemplation on loss of innocence.

Looking over the tracklist to Mantras, Pruitt notes that a certain narrative thread emerged without her intention. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but the throughline for this record ended up being my own personal journey of letting go and learning how to love myself again—it begins with tension, frustration, and fear and resolves to a place of acceptance, surrender, and stillness,” she says. “I hope when people hear the record they feel what I felt after writing it, which was a sense of trusting myself and trusting that—no matter how bad things look—there’s always hope where there’s fear. I know that so much of the time we feel alone in our pain, so hopefully these songs help everyone to see that they can work through those big life changes and end up loving themselves a lot more.”

 

Jack Van Cleaf

California-reared singer-songwriter Jack Van Cleaf writes determined and delicate songs with poetic slant and confessional warmth. At twenty-six, Van Cleaf has taken stage at legendary venues across the country including Mission Ballroom, The Ryman, The Pageant, Miller High Life Theatre and more. He has toured with artists such as Noah Kahan, Briston Maroney, Oliver Hazard, Field Guide, Annika Bennett, The Lagoons, and Taylor Ashton.

In his songs, folk imagination dresses in cinematic production, evoking the spacious and sparse verses of Nathaniel Rateliff and Gregory Alan Isakov. His music also echoes his heroes: a directness borrowed from Kris Kristofferson and lucid spirituality reminiscent of Cohen.

Released in 2022, Van Cleaf's premiere full-length record 'Fruit from the Trees' opens like a lost suitcase. Written across a span of seven years, the ten tracks are stashed with fables and fictions, letters to high school lovers, loose change in foreign currency, and a white bandana chalked in red Texas dust. Co-produced by Jamie Mefford (Nathaniel Rateliff, Gregory Alan Isakov) and Alberto Sewald (Katy Kirby), the record soars with sonic width that melds the folk-song precision of Dawes with a rumbled raucousness suggestive of The Killers. Van Cleaf proudly introduced 'Fruit from the Trees' with a sold out release show in Nashville, TN in March of 2022.

The debut record was premiered on Atwood Magazine who calls the record "achingly intimate, warm, and tender…a radiantly raw alt-folk reckoning in the depths of connection, emotion, and the human experience."

With lyrics that connect to many, Van Cleaf's breakthrough song "Rattlesnake" has amassed over 9 million streams and his music has been included in over 20k playlists by listeners across the globe. He was included in Spotify's best of 2022 roundups — 'Fresh Finds Class of 2022' and 'Fresh Finds Folk: Best of 2022' and most recently named one of Spotify's 2024 Artists To Watch highlighting "Rattlesnake" on their 'juniper' playlist. His latest releases include singles "Terrestrial Man" and "For The Birds." Van Cleaf is currently writing and recording new music.