Videos by American Songwriter

When Tristan Prettyman completes the tour for Hello, she can’t wait to return home to Southern California and open a waiting package.
Tristan Prettyman

When Tristan Prettyman completes the tour for Hello, she can’t wait to return home to Southern California and open a waiting package.

The box, from a relative in Delaware who got in touch after learning of her budding career, it may hold some clues to the origins of what is, literally, the prettiest (Pretty-ist?) last name in showbiz. “He’s done a lot of research, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it because I’m on the road,” she says, during a telephone interview from Boone, N.C., where she is-naturally, enough-on the road. “And I’ve also met a couple ‘Prettymans’ from other parts of the country through MySpace.”

When the 26-year-old (in May) Prettyman was in sixth grade, her father taught her how to surf. (They lived in Del Mar, near San Diego.) And at 15, she took up her father’s old guitar. “He and my uncle used to play at my grandma’s house,” she recalls. Soon, she was writing and performing songs-airily romantic tunes sung in an easy-going, casual alto that connoted a jauntily youthful optimism.

For Hello, her second full-length album, there is a sense of anger or regret in a few songs-“Echo,” “Blindfold,” and the cautionary “California Girl,” for instance. They are the results of a long-term relationship ending badly. “I had written a whole batch of songs that were super-sad-like ‘lock yourself in a cabin and don’t come out’ sad,” she says. “But I realized I didn’t want that record. I didn’t want a sad record, the breakup record, the dark record.”

So Hello still possesses hopeful songs, like “You Got Me” and “Handshake,” that exhibit a generous spirit toward friends and the world. That mirrors Prettyman’s overall worldview. “I like human interaction and like to hang out with my fans and get to know them,” she says. “I’m intrigued by humans in general. I like to just sit back and observe the world.”

The album, produced in London by Sacha Skarbek (who co-wrote James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”) and Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall), also has a live, rock-band feel. Fittingly, it was recorded live, with country-rock echoes to the instrumentation and Prettyman’s vocal inflections. Her voice and guitar are primarily supported by Matt Delvecchio on bass and Chris Lovejoy on drums.

“We have a simple sound that is so warm and moody, and I wanted some of that on this record,” she says. “We recorded most of this live-we miked the whole room with the drums in a second room, and we’d do a couple takes with everyone. It’s all about how a recording makes you feel.”

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