Band of the Day

2012.10.03

Tristan Prettyman

A surfer/model turned singer-songwriter uses humor and wit to make a breakup album moving and fun
You got me under a spell. You look like heaven, oh, but you put me through hell.
lyrics from My Oh My

Tristan Prettyman (b. May 23rd 1982) is a singer-songwriter signed to Capitol Records. Prettyman grew up in San Diego, CA where she took up surfing at a young age and modeled for surf company Roxy. She also developed a strong love for music while growing up, learning to play guitar and beginning to write songs while attending high school. After releasing demos and an EP in the early 2000s, Prettyman released her debut album Twentythree in 2005, followed by Hello...x in 2008. Prettyman was engaged to fellow San Diego musician Jason Mraz, though the relationship ended in 2011, spurring much of the inspiration for her third album, Cedar + Gold released October 2nd, 2012, her first for Capitol Records.

Facing a major turning point as a longterm relationship crumbled, San Diego surfer/model turned musician Tristan Prettyman could've written a sappy breakup album. Instead, she's turned heartbreak into witty, emotionally complex songs spiked with humor and pain in equal parts. While many songwriters keep some distance between their personal lives and the songs they write, either through vague lyrics or elements of fiction (see: Sufjan Stevens), Prettyman lays it all out. You're pretty positive that we're 100% in autobiographical land throughout her just-released album Cedar + Gold, and Prettyman does it right. That lack of a wall helps intensify the songs' impact rather than come off as someone else's diary that's interesting to them but not to anyone else.

Most of Cedar + Gold is classic singer-songwriter, a sound that could have graced airwaves anytime in the last few decades, and relies more on songwriting chops than establishing an innovative new sound. “My Oh My” leverages a click-clacking beat and lightly distorted vocals, hinting at Tom Waits style grunge-blues before bursting into one of the strongest choruses on the album, big and catchy. “Bad Drug” takes the scratchy blues aesthetic further, adding even more distortion, banjo, and squelching rhythms edging on trip-hop. Once again, Prettyman shows how her pipes are meant for a workout in the chorus, singing “give it to me in the morning / by the evening I need it again” with a passion that erupts through the distortion and instrumentation. “The Rebound” hilariously chronicles Prettyman's attempt at a romantic conquest at grocery chain Trader Joe's, complete with cheesy pickup lines and plenty of innuendo. It's about time someone wrote a song about grocery store as meat market (especially Trader Joe!) and Prettyman nails it. Of course a breakup album wouldn't be complete without melancholy, gently strummed acoustic guitar, and “Glass Jar” fills this hole nicely. Prettyman's voice is half-hushed and breathy, using great details to make her personal story universal.

Tristan Prettyman hasn't set out to change the world of music on Cedar + Gold, she's content to write great songs, and we're more than happy with that goal.