Release Date: Oct 15, 2013
Record label: Thirty Tigers
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
With her 2011 debut Charlatans at the Garden Gate, Nashville singer/songwriter Tristen established herself as an articulate and clear-voiced purveyor of folk-minded, acoustic pop songs with gentle strains of Americana. Her strong sense of melody helped her music skew more toward an indie pop angle rather than get too mired in rootsy old-timeyness, and on 2013's Caves, she throws any remaining twang out the door, delivering an eloquently rendered synth-driven album. Jumping ship on acoustic music may have been a reaction against the traditional Nashville establishment, but the stylistic turn suits her music well.
Despite its current title as “it city,” there’s a downside to being from Nashville: the tendency of anyone and everyone to find “twang” in your music, even if it doesn’t really exist. It’s something that Tristen has been plagued with since her excellent debut, Charlatans At The Golden Gate, which is an electric fix of pop-hook mastery, a killer voice and some folk influences that congeal into one of the more idiosyncratic points of view from either side of the Mason-Dixon line. And sure, on songs like “Matchstick Murder” and “Tadpole,” you can identify some southern swing, but it’s a mere piece in the Chicago-native’s puzzle, and not even one of the corners that hold it all together.
Tristen is a fighter. Her twitter account attests to that much, and like other determined independent artists, she’s taken her music into her own hands and created her own label, PUPsnake Records. C A V E S is her second LP released on her own label, and it’s full of bright pop melodies, strong vocals and big instrumentation. Tristen’s voice and her songwriting are the anchors that keep C A V E S afloat.
Tristen's 2011 debut, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, defined the Nashville singer-songwriter as an exceptionally feisty presence, adroitly integrating classic country signifiers within a sharp-tongued modern persona. An approach that acknowledged genre history without being overly reverent of it, this method laid the groundwork for a series of smart, lean pop songs with just a palpable bit of twang. Yet it's that same lack of reverence that leads to problems on Caves.