Reviewing the Reviews: Tristan Prettyman

Tristan Prettyman responds to the critics.


Tristan Prettyman -- the San Diego folk-pop singer-songwriter, surfer and former Roxy model -- is back with her sophomore album, Hello. Over the phone from New York, where she was getting ready to board a plane to Nashville to continue her current U.S. tour, the genial Prettyman prefaced our "Reviewing the Reviews" session (in which some of our favorite artists respond to their critics) by saying, "I hope you quote the shit outta the Union-Tribune one, because I have a lot to say about that dude." Matter of fact, that was the first one on the list...

Some of Hello's songs are upbeat and playful, while others indicate Prettyman may still be healing from her emotional wounds. On the electric-piano-tinged "Echo," she sings, "Baby, I don't want to see your face 'round here no more." On "California Girl," a bluesy ballad that is one of the highlights of the album, she vows, "I'm never gonna fall for that old trick again." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

TP: Yeahhh...that's funny 'cause I actually had to write this writer an e-mail after this came out. It was actually the first time I'd ever done something like that, because it said I was bent outta shape about my ex-boyfriend [singer Jason Mraz], and it mentioned him about four times. And it just really drove me nuts, and I feel like the writer did it because it's home, it's San Diego and it was the first time I felt the presence of the press using info that was out there from the past that was kinda sketchy to add to the story a little more. In general, this record is not about a breakup, really -- for me the record represents me and my personality and the different colors that I show. I mean, I'm fine to talk about being in a relationship, but I feel like it's irrelevant who it's with, because either way, if it was with someone well-known or not well-known, it wouldn't matter, and I've been in several relationships since that relationship, so I kinda feel like, "Hey wait, you're just singling the one dude out, what about the other guys? They have feelings, too!" And for anyone writing a review of my record to say, "Oh it's just a breakup record," and "She's angry," that's just a cop-out. Like, really? You probably didn't listen to the record, then. I feel that as an artist I just worked way too hard and put way too much soul and honesty into my music to have someone make assumptions about it based on what they've read. I feel like I deserve a little better. I don't want people to just write it off as "a breakup album."

There are a few songs that scream "radio single," and that's simply for the fact that they do conform to what we're hearing with a lot of other singer-songwriters in the music world. Prettyman is at her best when she doesn't follow the rules and strips the production down. At times you'll just hear percussion and at other moments only an extremely simple acoustic line, but it's in those moments when the core song comes through and Hello feels the most genuine. (

TP: Wow. Yeah, I've never been a fan of slick production. I was actually really worried about using "Madly Madly" as a single. You know, you have a label pushing you saying, "This is the song that'll do the best at radio, this is a hit," and as an artist, I'm sorta like, 'I'd rather just put out the opposite of what everybody else thinks works, because that'd make it stand out more.' People would hear you on the radio or something and be like, "Wow, this doesn't sound like everything else."

She's a unique songwriter who at one moment can create beautiful poetry and the next have you laughing at her sly sense of humor. She's very observant in her craft and knows how to communicate with people in her lyrics and write a good melody. She doesn't just create a song; she experiences it. (Hear Say)

TP: Awww, I like that one! A lot of people tell me I'm really genuine and I know how to connect with them and I have a way with words, and that's crazy to me but I'm really flattered that I am able to do that for them. For someone to write that in a review, that's all you could ever really ask for when you make music. That's really nice! I'm going to send them a cookie.

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