Entertainment » Music

Tristan Prettyman

by Jenny Block
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Mar 1, 2013
Tristan Prettyman
Tristan Prettyman  (Source:Lauren Ross)

Tristan Prettyman has gone from beachy to blues and it sure looks good on her. Prettyman played Dallas' House of Blues' Cambridge Room with Anya Marina opening on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Although under the weather, Anya Marina was adorable. "Tonight's show brought to you by Sudafed," she teased after rapping her retro eighties groove "Busrider" with music courtesy of her iPad. To the crowd's delight, she also crooned "Satellite Heart," her hit from "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" soundtrack.

"You know when you have a crush on someone and you're wondering do they see you the way you see them? That's what this song is about," Marina said as a way of introduction to the catchy "Notice Me," to which the crowd happily sang along. She closed with a song by another artist/rapper T.I., a bit of a surprise coming from the singer/songwriter genre.

She did a cover of "Whatever You Like." It was really, well, cute, honestly, if you can imagine. It's so interesting to hear a song so out of context, so out of genre. Marina's version is sweet, wistful and not without humor by any token. The girl's a charmer, for sure.

"I wore my horse shoes cause we're in Texas," Prettyman said as she took the stage in a slip dress patterned with horseshoes and an unbuttoned button-up, blue denim shirt. "We got through a blizzard to get here. So I had a Blizzard for breakfast," she joked, referring to the dramatic and out of character snow she found herself in the night before in the Texas panhandle, and the Dairy Queen favorite respectively.

Prettyman opened with "Say Anything," a perfect example of the shift in her style. It's a significant departure from the beachy sound of her earlier work. The sound rings harder, more true, more substantial.

"It's a little more country," Prettyman tells Edge after the show. "My grandpa played a lot of country music when he bounced me on his knee. Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash. I feel it here," she says, pressing her hand to her heart."

She said that although the laid back, Jack Johnsony stuff is cool, it's the dirty, sexy, raspy, bluesy sound that has her attention now. You can hear the change in every track from the songs on her latest album "Cedar and Gold," recently released in October 2012, to the songs that date back to her previous recordings, like "Hello" and "Twenty-Three."

Prettyman, looking as leggy and gorgeous as ever, was joined onstage by two additional musicians, the incredibly talented Steve Miller and Josh Donahoo, as she worked her way through the set, which included "Second Chance," "I Was Gonna Marry You," "Love Love Love," "Madly," "When You Come Down," "My Oh My," "Quit You," "Never Say Never" and "Simple As It Should Be" as well as killer covers of Erykah Badu's "Call Tyrone" and John Mayer's "I Don't Trust You."

Then the evening got a just a little bit heartbreaking. It's no secret that Prettyman's longtime boyfriend was singer songwriter Jason Mraz. It's also no secret that the break-up was, as to be expected, no fun.

"Josh [Donahoo] was telling me he liked one of my exes' songs," Prettyman told the audience, her voice all tease and jab. "'Glass Jar' was written in response to [Mraz's] 'I Won't Give Up.' He told me, 'When you sing it, it sounds like the truth.' Yes I win," she teased. "Just kidding. Not really."

There’s something so authentic about Tristan, from her sweet unassuming smile to her laugh and her stories. It makes you feel as if you’re hanging out with a friend, commiserating and sharing funny stories.

It was strange to hear Prettyman talk about her "ex" and know she's talking about someone you know as a celebrity as opposed to a real person. That is, we know musicians, like many other writers, write about their lives, and cannibalize them in some instances. And yet to hear her talk about it leaves one strangely raw. These aren't just musicians whose songs ring true for us, they are people sharing the words that ring true for them.

But Prettyman is not all wistfulness and regret-not at all. She's as funny as she is serious. She talks about a visit to Trader Joe's that ended up inspiring a song titled, "The Rebound."

"I saw this man at the bananas and I was like, 'sweet.'" She also joked about what it's like to be teased as a kid only to be contacted later in life by those same people wanting to be Facebook friends later in life when you've "made it."

"This guy put boogers on me in assembly, called me Tristan Uglyman. Now I'm like, 'Fuck you. No guest list for you. Go away,'" she said with a laugh. There wasn't a person in the room who couldn't relate to the story by the sound of the resounding laughter and comments shouted from the crowd.

For her encore, Prettyman did a cover a Britney Spear's "Toxic." How such juxtaposition could be so appropriate is precisely what makes Prettyman so appealing. The thing is, there's something so authentic about Tristan, from her sweet unassuming smile to her laugh and her stories. It makes you feel as if you're hanging out with a friend, commiserating and sharing funny stories.

It does beg the question of whether it's possible to be huge without the drama of Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift.

Regardless, it certainly is a nice change from so much else out there going on in the music industry. There's nothing wrong with a big production now and then; but there's nothing wrong with a show that's just as simple as it should be.

"From going from not sure if I wanted to play music. I sure am happy I came back to do it again," Prettyman said. There was no question from Prettyman's rapt audience Tuesday in the Cambridge Room that the feeling was mutual.

Prettyman's rich soulful voice is impossible to get enough of and though her sound has changed significantly, she's still a California girl at heart. Not three songs in, Prettyman took her boots off.

"Oh my God. My feet feel so good," she purred. "They're free. They're not used to being in shoes. They feel like they're in prison or something."

The show marked the beginning of this particular tour run, which goes into early May, after which Prettyman will be playing some festivals and one-offs. As for what's after that, well, Prettyman tells Edge, she wouldn't mind if Blake Shelton or Zac Brown asked her to hit the road with them...

Tristan Prettyman played on Feb. 26 at The House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. in Dallas. For info on other House of Blues shows, visit www.houseofblues.com/Dallas. For more info on Prettyman’s tour, which runs from Atlanta to New York to Boston and Ohio, visit http://www.tristanprettyman.com

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).

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