It may only be January, but it seems safe to declare Tristen the year's most charming new artist.
The young musician is set to release her full-length debut, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, on Feb. 1 via American Myth Recordings. The 11-track album is an instantly appealing collection of sunny pop and introspective ballads set afloat by the 26-year-old's enchanting, spritely vocals.
But Tristen -- whose surname is Gaspadarek -- isn't skating by on her considerable cuteness. More than anything, what makes Charlatans such an addictive delight is its accomplished songwriting. From the opening strums of the infectious, Machiavellian "Eager for Your Love" (MP3) to the aggressive flirtation of "Heart and Hope to Die" -- whose lyric "Show me how your daddy and your mama made you" may be the creepiest sexual invitation ever -- she displays a wisdom and mastery of her craft usually unheard of in a debut album.
Not that Tristen's musical prowess hasn't had time to blossom. The Illinois native started playing music at the age of 14, recording songs with her father in his home recording studio. A year after graduating college, she moved to Nashville to immerse herself in the city's rich music scene. Being surrounded by all those honky-tonks clearly left its mark on the singer -- you can feel the touches of vintage Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn on Charlatan's folkier tracks. Despite the country influence, Tristen prefers to describe her sound as "neo-traditionalist pop."
Not sure what that means? Don't sweat it -- just go see Tristen at the Soda Bar on Jan. 30. To sweeten the deal, Owl Eyes and the Displaced are opening. Plus, the show is presented by your friendly neighborhood Owl and Bear, so you know it'll be good.
While you count down the days to what's sure to be a fantastic show, head over to Tristen's website and download the three-track "Eager for Your Love" single for free. With any luck, she'll be selling Charlatans at the Garden Gate at her show, despite it being a few days before the official release date. If so, be sure to grab a copy -- you won't be sorry.