Tristen's House of War & more...

Guest Blogger: Susannah Felts
Tristen is on the road a lot, charming audiences in clubs country-wide with her smart songwriting and catchy hooks. A lot of hard work and persistence has paid off in recent years for the Chicago-bred, Nashville-baptized (in terms of music, at least) singer-songwriter: her debut full-length album, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, racked up all kinds of praise, including hearty commendations from her local music scene brethren, many of whom named it as Album of the Year in the Nashville Scene’s 2011 year-end wrap-up. And then there was that bit of NPR coverage that generated a lot of buzz.
So it was a pleasure to catch Tristen and her band, The Ringers, on home turf at the Basement [6/20/12] on a summer solstice evening, with Bows & Arrows and Evan P. Donohue opening up. (Tristen thanked them for keeping the rock alive: “It’s a niche now, y’all,” she said.) Joining her were Buddy Hughen on guitar and Jordan Caress on bass, and they led off the set with “Eager for Your Love,” the first song off Charlatans, with a slightly different arrangement than the recorded version. No live percussion this time around: Buddy manned the drum machine, and Tristen broke out a vintage organ/keyboard thingy (yes. a thingy) for several songs.

Tristen and Caress harmonize beautifully, and aside from a few kinks early on, they played off each other well this night, particularly on “Gold Star,” one of several new songs the band introduced. A fellow local singer, Cortney Tidwell, joined the group on vocals for a few songs. Tristen mentioned that this was the second show with this lineup: “You guys gotta be OK with a little fumblage,” she said.
Indeed, this show was about looking forward, introducing new work that signals a shift in sound for Tristen. “Y’all are my test audience,” she said at one point. When I interviewed her early this spring for Design Bureau magazine, Tristen mentioned that her new album, due out soon, would sound very different from Charlatans. This performance suggested that she wasn’t just jawin’ – while Charlatans has, overall, a 60s-70s retro feel, the songs she unveiled this night, such as “House of War,” evoke some of the more minor-key highlights of the 1980s. (Tristen told me that Twin Peaks has recently been a big aesthetic influence, and you can both see it and hear it in her show.)
If this test audience’s reaction was any indication, Tristen’s new forays will not disappoint her followers, and she’s bound to build on her rep as one of the most talented, inspired and hard-working young artists in Nashville. (But don’t call her a Nashville act.) “Fuck Feist!” Tidwell was overheard saying in the bathroom after the show. “Tristen can sing circles around Feist!” Y’all be the judge: definitely check her out if you get a chance. She’s one to watch, as they say.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.