|Photo by Lauren Ross|
On the morning of her surgery to remove polyps from her vocal chords, Tristan Prettyman wrote one of her best songs to date: “Say Anything.” The notion is simple — to speak up, to listen to your heart, to move on. Say anything. If only it were that easy.
Except, it should be that easy. And really, it’s the only way to get what you want or need out of love, which is a central subject of Prettyman’s latest album, Cedar + Gold. It’s a beautiful and simple record. I’d also call it underrated, but when it comes to writing about music, I’m not sure what that means. I do know that it means something to me.
Seeing Prettyman live also means quite a bit to me. She sways with her guitar during almost every song, especially the light “Love Love Love” and “Madly,” the latter which she performed solo acoustically. It’s fair to say that she’s in control, owns her words, and is sure of her voice, which, during certain songs, was spectacular.
Let’s talk about those songs. The first golden moment came during “I Was Gonna Marry You,” a heartbreaker of a tune, that is literal as you think it is. While it works fine on her album, it’s different when Prettyman is singing it sans guitar: she’s clearly moved by every word she wrote. Honestly, I’m not sure how she can deliver it every night without breaking down, but again, that’s credit to her control and confidence as a performing artist. “I gotta stay as far away as I can get,” Prettyman sings. “‘Cause part of me hasn’t left.” And I’ll ask: who hasn’t felt that way?
The second moment that defined Prettyman’s talent was during “Come Clean.” Again, simple stuff here, but I’ve seen simple songs murdered time and again, so when someone does it well, you hold on to it. The chorus was crushing: “Holding your breath, when you just want to scream,” Prettyman sang as her voice trailed off. She didn’t quite scream, but I’m guessing she could have.
Being loud, though, isn’t who Tristan Prettyman is. We have too much noise as it is, anyway.
Be simple. Be true.