The California surfer girl hailing from San Diego is back with her fourth album of raw, emotionally wrenching songs. Armed with a dusky alto voice capable of ranging as far as the emptiness of lonely can go, with Cedar + Gold she delivers an album of alt-rock/folk/country that her fans have been waiting a long 4 years to hear.
With her first three recordings, 2003's Love Ep , 2005's Twentythree (Dig) which delivered the hit, “Love, Love, Love” and 2008's Hello , Prettyman parlayed her talent and laid-back surfer-girl-from-San Diego charm into an eight-year career studded with highlights that included Hello's No. 2 position on the iTunes Digital Albums chart and headlining tours across the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Instead of racing back to the studio, Prettyman took an extended break during which she traveled the globe, had vocal cord surgery, ended an engagement, and questioned whether she even wanted to be a musician at all.
Thankfully, the answer to that soul searching question was yes. These tunes examine those highs and lows, the loss and redemption. "I started writing from a place that was so deep and honest, where I didn't hold anything back," she says. "It felt so good. I was like, 'This is what music is about - being able to release what is trapped inside of you.' Whenever anything caused me pain, I'd tell myself, 'Save it for the record.'"
Prettyman enlisted producer Greg Wells (Adele, Katy Perry) who plays piano, bass, drums, and some guitar on the album. "Greg forced me to step into really being a musician and owning what I do," she says. "Once I did that, I got super creative and the songs started coming from a different place. It was a very intuitive process." The first single hit the radio in July, "My Oh My," opens with a lo-fi, reverb tinged shuffle that is infectious. The tune moderates the ‘breakup album’ feel by delivering a song about someone who still raises your pulse rate, and you playing that game, have your fun, even though you know it’s over and nothing good can come from it.
During that four year hiatus, Prettyman traveled to Bali, Australia and Europe where she says, “I just went crazy.” She also got engaged for a second time to fellow musician and San Diegan Jason Mraz who had a hit single with "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)", in 2002. His second album, Mr. A-Z peaked at number 5 in 2005. A musical match made in heaven, but unfortunately it didn’t last. He broke off the engagement in 2011 and you don’t have to listen too closely to Cedar + Gold to guess the subject matter of a number of the songs.
The poet Charles Bukowski said, “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire” Tristan Prettyman walk through the fire to make Cedar + Gold . With an artistry that lies in her songwriting and the finely wrought lyrical details and emotionally raw vocal performances, Prettyman pulls no punches and spares no one, including herself on songs like “Say Anything,” “I Was Gonna Marry You,” “Come Clean,” “Glass Jar,” and “Never Say Never,”
Prettyman wrote several of the songs with Dave Hodges, whom she first met the morning after a particularly emotional night. “I go meet Dave and I’m late and I’m crying,” she says. “I’m just a ball of snot, like, ‘Hi, I’m Tristan and I’m a mess.’” That session yielded the completion of the album’s opening track “Say Anything” — an open-hearted tune about finding freedom in letting go. The second session resulted in the no-holds-barred “I Was Gonna Marry You.” “It was like, ‘Wow, I’m getting really transparent here and being really specific,’” Prettyman recalls. “But once I walked through the door of honesty there was no telling where I was going. I’d never spoken out before about the way it really was, but I found myself saying ‘Screw it, I’m going to tell the whole story.’”
Other songs tempering the loss and ache are the sexy, hot “Bad Drug,” and the bouncy light-hearted “Rebound”. The album closes out with a jewel of a song, “Never Say Never” a heartbreaking ballad about a love that just doesn’t work out. It ends with an outro that acts as a coda for the whole album: “You can’t start a fire in the pouring rain.”
Cedar + Gold manages to be both an emotionally deep album and a very accessible and easy to identify with collection of songs. Amongst the rubble of a relationship lies hope that is ready to walk through that fire somewhat intact, if not unscathed. Prettyman is an introspective songwriter and possesses a voice that covers the whole range of human emotion. She melds all that into songs that can be very commercially successful while still not compromising artistic integrity. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait four more years for her next offering.
- Audio CD (October 2, 2012) Original Release Date: 2012 Number of Discs: 1 Label: Capitol ASIN: B008U6QA0U
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved