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Album Review

Although inspired by the beach-friendly charm of Jack Johnson, Tristan Prettyman pitches her tent further inland, mixing the sunny sounds of her influences with shades of jazz and pedal steel twang. Twentythree saw the songwriter first attempting to coalesce those genres into something cohesive, and Hello...x joins the effort three years later, featuring a grown-up Prettyman whose vocals and songwriting have grown decidedly more polished. Inspired by a split with former boyfriend Jason Mraz, Prettyman fills Hello with breakup ballads and sexy, sauntering pop tunes, almost as if she's dismayed to be single but simultaneously excited to rediscover her freedom. A number of singer/songwriters have turned similar sentiments into chart-topping gold since Prettyman's emergence, and Hello occasionally aims for the same audience that gobbled up Colbie Caillat's Coco and Sara Bareilles' Little Voice. But the majority of her moves aren't so streamlined, and the bare-boned arrangements put an emphasis on the songs' hooks without coating them in layers of glossy, unnecessary sound. Even the album's most overtly poppy track, the cool 'n' cocky "Handshake," is too risqué for radio playback, since Prettyman's lyrics about being "up against the wall with [her] clothes coming undone" don't suit the stations that would normally play her music alongside Norah Jones and Missy Higgins. Prettyman is most at ease when she ditches the desire to write the next "Bubbly" and, instead, steadily chips away at her own niche, a move that might not garner any Jack Johnson-sized fame but does unearth such gems as "In Bloom." With pianos and strings underscoring Prettyman's somber delivery, "In Bloom" is a moving finale, a late-night ode to heartache that is so forlorn, the key doesn't even resolve itself at the end. Perhaps that's a strange move for someone who previously gravitated toward sun-kissed songcraft, but Hello is proof that Prettyman has grown into a full-fledged musician, not just a former surfer-turned-model who thought strumming chords was more promising than chasing waves.

Customer Reviews

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Born: May 23, 1982 in Del Mar, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

A former model for Quicksilver's Roxy label, singer/songwriter Tristan Prettyman grew up in the San Diego area. Her beachside town allowed for many surfing excursions, and Prettyman practiced the sport often as a teenager. She also took a liking to the music of Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, and Jack Johnson, and her father's old acoustic guitar gave her the chance to learn an instrument and hone her songwriting skills. In between modeling gigs and surfing trips, she began showcasing her acoustic songs...
Full Bio
Hello, Tristan Prettyman
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