If Tristan Prettyman's 2008 release Hello...x was somewhat inspired by her split with fellow singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, then her intimate, musically varied 2012 effort Cedar + Gold, recorded after the couple reunited, got engaged, and then broke it off again, is Prettyman's definitive breakup record. Produced by Greg Wells, Cedar + Gold continues the more instrumentally fleshed-out electric and electronic sound that the largely acoustic-oriented Prettyman explored on Hello...x. This newfound musical maturity also extends into her songwriting, as Cedar + Gold features some of the most introspective, self-examinational, and emotionally raw songs of her career. In that sense, such tracks as the passionate "Second Chance" and the rambling country-blues-inflected "My Oh My," with their anthemic, soulful melodies and dancey percussion, bring to mind such similarly inclined contemporaries as Colbie Caillat, Mat Kearney, and even the operatic uplift of Florence + the Machine. As Prettyman and Mraz's relationship was a public one, with the couple often performing together on tour, it's fairly clear what such songs as "Second Chance," "Quit You," and, most obviously, "I Was Gonna Marry You," are about. But rather than coming off as mere diary entries set to music, Prettyman displays a true craftsman's touch. The cuts on Cedar + Gold are both personal and universally relatable, with melodies that stick in your head and tug at your heart.
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Review by Matt Collar