By: Dennis Cook
On my best days I'm not nearly this overflowing with positivity, kindness and hope. It's a rare, unblemished innocence that can hold onto such virtues in this rough world, something to be admired even if most of us can't summon up the juju to breath rainbows. Warmly reflective and breezily constructed, Tistrya Grace's debut, Seremplicity (self-released), overflows with bright spirit and the pickin'-for-the-joy-of-it spirit of the early '70s Topanga Canyon and SF scenes. Aided by members of Hot Buttered Rum, Izabella, Blue Turtle Seduction and ALO, Tistrya taps into the floating, blue sky energy of Johnny Nash, Jim Croce and other makers of unashamedly good natured music designed to help folks sing their way through their day-to-day struggles (and joys).
Moods range from the funky, Boz Scaggs-like electricity of "Music All Around" to the beatnik snap of "We Are Strong," with much diversity between those poles. The flute (by HBR's Erik Yates) at the start of "Wild and Free" guides us into the same wooded groves where Van Morrison dug out Tupelo Honey but adds an environmental subtext that's plaintively expressed through the arrangement, particularly the aching violin from BTS' Christian Zupancic. This is a fine community of players coming together to etch out Grace's emerging songwriting, a modern offspring of the many talented but largely unknown talents from the Canyon and beyond (Judee Sill
, Linda Thompson and Linda Perhacs all spring to mind at various junctures on Seremplicity). Her ingratiating melodies and the gifted musicians delivering them ultimately offer a snapshot of the network of great players in Northern California right now.
The soft reggae lilt of "Inspiration Song" and "Creeping Thoughts" alternates with tunes both bouncing and tender ("May You Always"). Tistrya's voice is a flexible, somewhat unpredictable creature. She seems to morph in the moment, playing to the soul of each song with feeling trumping technique, but in the best of ways. And she's backed by consistently nice performances from everyone involved, including guitarist Sean Lehe (Izabella), bassist Steve Adams (ALO, Big Light), singer Nahara Angeline, drummer Adam Navone (Blue Turtle Seduction) and bassist Murph (Izabella). 21 musicians participated in the creation of Seremplicity and while that collective energy is palpable it's to Tistrya's credit that everything hangs together well. This is an album in the old school sense, where you can pick out individual pieces but it's the overall flow o' things that ultimately captures you. Within Seremplicity you'll find the sort of hippie ethos that not many can credibly conjure anymore, a real love of the planet and the many creatures crawling around it imparted with minimal cynicism and let's-put-on-a-show dynamism.
JamBase | Golden State
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