"Cedar + Gold," Tristan Prettyman #MusicMonday

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tristan Prettyman Cedar and Gold
source: Tristan Prettyman's Facebook page
In the mid-'00s, I went through this laid-back, beachy acoustic music phase that I never really grew out of. It started with Jason Mraz in 2003, who wasn't exactly making beachy music at the time, and made a stop at Tristan Prettyman, Jason Mraz's then-girlfriend. They'd met in San Diego, where Jason Mraz had settled after having grown up in Virginia. I was obsessed with this image of San Diego being some sort of paradise for easy living, for people who were beach bums by day, and coffeehouse singer-songwriters by night. And this place, this magical place called Java Joe's in Ocean Beach, where singer-songwriters like Jason Mraz and Jewel converged and eventually "made it"... I did eventually make a "pilgrimage" to San Diego, and tried to track down Java Joe's, but somehow never made it there. So I'll never know.

Tristan Prettyman was barely 23 years old when her debut album, appropriately titled "Twentythree," was released by Virgin Records in the summer of 2005. Though I wasn't always terribly fond of the way she used her voice back then, I was entranced by her. Aside from the fact that she was dating my one-time pretend boyfriend, she was the epitome of who I wanted to be when I "grew up" -- the wholesome-looking, somewhat athletic, laid-back tomboy girl with her (what I thought bold) bob haircut. Though she was only a few years older than I was, "Twentythree" represented to me some sort of wisdom I didn't yet have, the keys to growing up that I would acquire. By the time I was actually twenty-three, I realized that it was possibly one of the most confusing years of my life ever.

But "Twentythree" was the perfect album for that summer, with its sticky hot subway rides to and from work, to and from concerts, and to and from the beach. The music was appropriately "beachy," imperfect, youthful, raw, quirky, and happy. Her second album, "Hello...x" was released in 2008, and ultimately quite unmemorable. For the couple, there was a breakup, a get-back-together, an engagement, and a permanent split. I discovered recently that Tristan Prettyman (whose name in and of itself is an inside joke to me ... I once liked a boy named Tristan, who was indeed very pretty) not only became engaged again (to another guy), but released a third studio album -- "Cedar + Gold" -- in October 2012.

I am in love with this album. Sincerely and genuinely, because it's hard to say that I fully enjoyed her music back then without bias, without a certain curiosity for her relationship with Jason Mraz. Screw Jason Mraz. The dissolution of their engagement has probably been the best medicine for her art. Her vocals finally sound at home with the melodies and moods of her music, and her music's had some of those rainbows and butterflies slapped out of it. What results is an eclectic, incredibly smooth, mature, darker, quirk-free collection of songs. There's a lot more production, and she's lost a lot of that rawness about her, but there's a lot more discovering of herself as an artist (and, of course, as a person) -- all of it works. And as ever, Tristan Prettyman succeeds in making growing "up" sound seamless, and pretty.

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