Not another pretty face

For an artist routinely compared to a slew of other singer-songwriters, Tristan Prettyman is startlingly unique.

The laid-back California native combines a clean acoustic sound with simple beats, and her low, breathy voice perfectly complements her honest and unassuming lyrics. Although straightforward and uncomplicated, her songs are far from boring – they manage to grab your attention and affection almost immediately.

Prettyman, more intent on music than fame, described her sound in an interview with The Hatchet as being “really mellow and intimate.” The relaxed attitude in her songs most likely comes from her years spent as a surfer in Southern California.

“I think in an everyday world, we’re so busy and so bombarded with things we need to think about and do … I just like to write songs that help people mellow out.”

Prettyman attributes much of her inspiration to Ani Difranco, who demonstrated the majesty of being a strong woman, and whose candidly frank lyrics showed a young Prettyman the role of honesty in music. About Difranco, she says that she would rather meet her for coffee at a diner and have a long talk than share the stage.

The album title “Twenty-three” holds a special significance to Prettyman. At the start of her career, she decided that if she had not made any significant accomplishments by the age of 23, she would pursue other things. On May 23, Prettyman turned 23, and her newfound success ensures that she will be sticking with her music career.

“Twenty-three” effortlessly conveys the wide range of emotions found in daily life. Her sincerity allows her to cover, unabashedly, every aspect of love in her relationships. The first song on the album, “Love Love Love,” an instant hit in Japan, combines a poppy tune with an extremely catchy melody and beguiling lyrics. It’s a clear highlight of the album.

In “Shy That Way,” a duet that Prettyman co-wrote and sang with boyfriend and fellow pop singer Jason Mraz, a jazzier and more seductive side is revealed. Her versatility is again exposed in the bitter “Songs for the Rich,” in which a tired-sounding Prettyman delves deeper than in the more obvious love songs that comprise most of her album. Her consistently modest yet powerful lyrics continue throughout the album to convey her laid-back life philosophy.

The last song on Twenty-three, “Simple as it Should Be,” sums up the content of the preceding songs, with “Cause I don’t think that we / Should ever feel the need to worry/Ever get ourselves in a hurry/You know I love you/I know you love me … It’s as simple as it should be.”

Prettyman’s favorite part of performing is the relationship between her and the audience.

“The best is when the audience is really connecting with you. (They’re) responsible for at least a fourth of the concert experience.” She added, “Every show is different; it really just depends on the mood I’m in.”

This statement is undeniably true, as she has been known to deviate from her normal set list to perform an acoustic cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Whichever route Prettyman takes during her concert, it can be assured that her distinctive style and fun-loving attitude will lead to a great show.

Tristan Prettyman will be opening for the John Butler Trio at the 9:30 Club Thursday night, Sept. 29. Tickets are $15. For more info visit www.930.com

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