May 8, 2008

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Tristan Prettyman, Hello
Virgin Records, April 15
Whatshername, Elliot Spitzer’s hooker, did irreparable damage to the image of the Aspiring 20something Singer, but there will always be one or two college-agers showing up every fiscal quarter whose souls are old enough not to be black holes of nothingness. Tristan Prettyman is getting a lot of critical comparisons to Jack Johnson, mostly from critics who don’t listen to Jack Johnson but instead work directly from the keywords “surf” and “California” and “acoustic” and boilerplate their reviews accordingly.

Prettyman’s a solid few notches more rock n roll than Johnson, and her old-soul-ness and laid-backness are attributable more to an uncanny KT Tunstall likeness than the John From Cincinnati soundtrack. Hello is no Eye to the Telescope but skulks in the same neighborhood; Prettyman postures at being a young Bonnie Raitt, occasionally long-jumping her sung notes a la Jewel in search of the monster hooks Tunstall used to be able to slap together in her sleep. Prettyman’s a better knuckleballer than Tunstall, to go by “California Girl” alone, which could almost be an Amy Winehouse cover of an Earth Wind and Fire tune, ergo the hope is that she lets up a little on the hot-babe-playing-at-Tunstall angle and unleashes her inner idiot (Beck’s from California too). B-Eric W. Saeger