“Cedar + Gold” by Tristan Prettyman

In her third album, Ceder + Gold, Tristan Prettyman has bared all. Chronicling the intimate and personal tales from her split with former fiancee and fellow singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, Prettyman has created a record that reflects a very different part of her life than her first two.

The cheerful acoustic songs of love and happiness that rang from 23 and Hello…x have been replaced with a cathartic journey of an incredibly difficult breakup. When faced with a similar scenario, others may have retreated from the public eye, recovering privately, Prettyman however has used her pain to fuel her latest endeavor, infusing the saga of the split with her classic folky-blues style we’ve come to know and love.

“There was a moment that I had… I was feeling like I needed to write about it, but do I not write about this because everyone will know what I’m talking about? But you know what, screw it, this is what I’m being drawn to write about. I don’t have a problem with people knowing the personal details of it, because I knew what I was getting myself into. And I’m okay with talking about it, and sharing the whole process about it, really,” Prettyman told Speakers in Code.

While every track on the album relates back to the breakup, Prettyman has managed to keep the songs off of the record diverse and different, transcending a variety a genres ranging from blues to electronica to acoustic and more, avoiding feeling being overly somber or dramatic and instead commendable and honest. There are the classically angry and rhythmic songs like “My Oh My” and “Second Chance,” where Prettyman sings, “I threw away the postcards and all the pictures I had kept / I didn’t even burn them / I didn’t think you deserved that much respect.” Then, the heartbreakingly intimate tracks including, “I Was Gonna Marry You,” “Come Clean,” and “Glass Jar” where she sings the chorus, “You gave up on us / You gave up on love,” as an evident direct response to Mraz’s popular single, “I Won’t Give Up.”

The most powerful moment in the record however comes five minutes into the final track, “Never Say Never”, where the catchy singing is replaced by Prettyman speaking straight about the breakup. “I may never understand why he left,” she begins, a soft hum of music playing the background, “I guess I just have to accept that this is the way it was meant to be.”

In many ways, this record seems to be a therapeutic exercise for Prettyman, a method of releasing her emotions as she moves forward, but she hopes it will have an impact on others as well. “The way I’ve seen it help people, it blows me away. It starts out with this island of one thing, and then it branches off and it helps other people. And I really love that — you’re giving it up to help other people,” she said in the same interview.

All in all, the listener is left rooting for Prettyman, supporting her journey and wishing her the best. There’s a lot to love about this record, but it will be just as exciting when and if she returns to singing about happier days.

By Anna Thorup

If you liked this, check out:
“Half-Made Man” by Ben Sollee
“Sugaring Season” by Beth Orton

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