Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

Tristen

Caves

2013-10-31

Tristen's Caves is the sound of conventions being defied. The label of "Nashville-based female singer-songwriter" is one that is unfortunately and heavily stereotyped, and if this is the common pigeonholing of acoustic, whiskey-tinged tales of lost love and wistful remembrance of something referred to as the "good ol' days," Tristen represents, well, none of these things. Right off the bat with single and album opener "No One's Gonna Know," the drums are punchy, poppy and driving, the music is upbeat, bright and painstakingly shiny. But beyond the typical pop schema, the lyrics are written with a sense of ruthless independence and severe honesty (chorus: "The only way to climb to the top/is stepping on heads/you're better off dead/you were always worth killing/just a runner for the show/and no one's gonna know.") Tristen Gaspadarek is not a gal to be trifled with.

The most striking and significant aspect of Caves as a record is the sharp juxtaposition of the glossy, synth-affected string sections and Tristen's equally sugary vocals against the dark, often understated content of the songwriting. This is so effective because on the surface, Caves sounds like a lot of other synth-pop albums with female vocals; but if you take the time to read through what she's singing it doesn't quite pander to the predictability of a lot of contemporary pop songwriting. Many of the songs take on a sardonic tone, others more sincere. What doesn't falter thematically in Tristen's lyrics is the presence of the earnest and the straightforward.

If you're looking for the most representative collection of songs out of Nashville right now, this isn't the album for you. Caves is sweet and sour and satisfyingly stirring, and we will keep Tristen on our radar for the time to come.

Recommended tracks: #1 "No One's Gonna Know", #2 "Goldstar", #10 "Island Dream"

Sigmund Steiger

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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