Tristen @ The Echo, February 1, 2011–New Album Out Now

TristenWith KCRW’s room-packing power on full display, a well-groomed crowd turned up to The Echo to catch young singer-songwriter Tristen’s proper L.A. debut last Wednesday. Originally from Illinois, now Nashville-based, Tristen’s craft is mature beyond her years, arranging country, bluegrass, Americana roots, even a little folk, into a tasty melange with pop hooks to spare. With a big voice that belies her small stature, she conjures a bit of the honey sweetness of a Tanya Donelly with maybe a hint of Stevie Nicks at the other end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t directly compare her to a Jenny Lewis type, but that might be a rough reference point for those of you who want those kind of shortcuts.

Her backing band on guitar, bass & drums—“The Ringers”, as she calls them–are a tight unit and have a good sense of when to lay back and when to turn it up. While her new LP, Charlatans At The Garden Gate (American Myth), is a warm, vintage analog-feeling production, with lush key and string arrangements, live, the tunes strip down nicely to rawer takes. You can see she’s played these tunes out a lot in the way she sings around the beat with ease, sometimes punctuating a verse with a little growl or a country whoop here and there. As she switches off from electric guitar to an occasional ukulele, you see there’s room to cut loose in these tunes, so the band’s time on the road should season the songs and open them up. A bit of awkward between song banter with the crowd only turns up her charm. I would not be surprised if she plays a bigger room, say a bit farther west next time through L.A.

Photo from Back-Pocket Letters flickr

Tristen - Charlatans At The Garden GateTristen
Charlatans At The Garden Gate (CD/LP/Digital)
Daytrotter Live Session