It’s no secret the album was inspired by her broken engagement with Jason Mraz. Though it must have been difficult to share her new music with her ex, their relationship was a major factor behind all the songs on the album. Tristan explained how she began co-writing with Dave Hodges shortly after the breakup and how some of the songs came together.
“I really, really enjoyed co-writing for this record. I worked with Dave Hodges, he was one of the first people that I wrote with,” she said. “I showed up to his house with snot all over my face and tears and eyes puffy. He opens the door and is just like, ‘Oh hi.’ And I’m like, ‘Hi, nice to meet you.'”
“He would always catch me in these really exposed raw moments and that was great because it came through in the demos and in the songs,” she added. “It was a blessing to capture that close to the actual event happening.”
One of those raw moments captured is poignant album closer “Never Say Never.” On the nearly six-minute track, Tristan sums up her relationship with a heartbreaking spoken word feature. She explained how the idea came about after a friend’s beautiful pedal steel feature.
“‘Never Say Never’ comes from . . . just, never say never, it’s pretty self explanatory,” she said. “Often in the studio I’ll have instances where I have these intuitive voices in my head. I had one of those and it was like, ‘What if we play that [pedal steel] backwards? What would it sound like? It kind of has this swirly, ethereal feel to it.”
Tristan and her producer Greg Wells (Adele, Katy Perry) decided they had to use it on the record, but weren’t sure exactly where. Once they decided to put the pedal steel part at the end of “Never Say Never,” Tristan had another moment where she heard a poem or spoken word on the song.
“I was Googling poems online. I was on Pinterest looking up quotes and just thinking I could read a phrase,” she said. “I tried a friend’s poem as well and nothing was making sense.”
Her producer left the studio for her to work on the song and shortly after Tristan figured it out on her own.
“I opened up my computer and I just started typing and that’s what came out,” she said. “I was really scared and I went into the studio and he played the track and I read it. We ran it through the filter to make it sound like it was being left on an answering machine. By the end of it him and I were both crying.”
She thought she had gotten everything out of her in the recording process, but that just wasn’t the case.
“That’s how songwriting happens for me. When stuff needs to come out, as long as I can take note and get out of the way and let it come through, that’s where the best stuff comes from,” she said.
Tristan Prettyman’s new album Cedar + Gold was released today.
-Annie Reuter, CBS Local
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