The song, “Simple As It Should Be” sums up the sunny disposition and laid-back songwriting of San Diego’s 23-year-old surfer-gone-acoustic songwriter of the year, Tristan Prettyman. The debut album opens with the breezy ocean sounds, Prettyman’s smoky vocals, and an air of acoustic mystery on “Love, Love, Love.” Twenty-three is an easy-to-listen-to album, from the basic instrumentation of acoustic guitar, steel pedal, and drums to Prettyman’s G-Love-styled lyrics. Takes me back to Ani Difranco’s “Puddle Dive.” Web link: tristanprettyman.com.
The world renowned flatpicking guitar virtuoso, Larry Keel, pays homage to traditional bluegrass classics with his four-piece bluegrass band, Natural Bridge. The 14-track album covers the major terrain of bluegrass, from emotionally-charged ballads that host a mix of male-female harmonies on songs like “I Know You’re Married” to the upbeat, foot-stomping, lightening-fast picking of songs like “Poor Monroe” and “Let’s Go To The Fair.” Check them out live at the SandBar in West Vail on Thursday, Feb. 23. Web link: larrykeel.com.
Listening to the 88’s sophomore release, Over and Over, is like a British invasion from all the best eras of rock with an American edge. Throughout the 12 track album, the five-piece, L.A.-based band combine power-pop with jazz, retro beats with lounge, and Vince Guaraldi-like piano styles with pedal rock. From the upbeat vocals of the hit love song, “All Cause Of You” to the artsy loungy satire of “Jesus Is Good,” Over and Over is a stellar rock collaboration. Web link: the88.net.