Sneaker Waves, the newest album from country-tinged indie rocker Tristen Gaspadarek, is a very personal record that touches on a lot of traditional personal themes including loneliness and past relationships.
It is also a very good album, thanks to the natural singing talents Tristen brings to the tracks, as well as a sense of genuine emotions that permeate the album, which was released July 7.
It’s easy to be cynical when an artist gets personal; after all, pretty much everyone knows that mining your own life and miseries is the best way to come up with material for something artistic, so it could be very easy for someone to try to force that in a very paint-by-numbers kind of way.
Tristen is an old pro by this point – Sneaker Waves is her fourth album – and it benefits from the amount of experience she’s garnered by this point.
And while her music has always been infused with a bit of folk and Americana, Sneaker Waves sounds very influenced by that “Nashville” sound, a change from her 2009 debut.
Tristen's voice sounds more twangy than in the past, and the music sounds more like the country/indie rock fusion that’s been taking over the local airwaves as of late than the more low-key sound she previously used.
The standout track is the album’s first single, “Glass Jar,” a song about the way people perceive each other and how judgmental and kind of bitchy people can be.
“I don’t have to say goodbye/You don’t get to see me cry/You put me in a glass jar and tap, tap tap/To see how I move.”
The song, in addition to being extremely catchy, is a very pleasant listening experience. The beat is steady and the guitar riff is positive and optimistic, creating a nice tonal dissonance with the lyrics, but it’s Tristen’s voice that is the star.
The chorus takes her to close to the top of her vocal range, lingering there for a bit like a roller coaster at the top of the biggest hill before the drop.
The two following tracks, “Alone Tonight” and “NYC,” are songs that deal with heady topics like death and the need for companionship when going through a difficult time.
Make no mistake, the lyrical content of this album is a little heavier than the music, although that’s not a bad thing by any means.
This is the kind of album where you listen to one song over and over again, (“Glass Jar” in my case) while skipping the others, until their message just kind of crystallizes for you and suddenly, you have a new favorite song.
I would recommend giving it a try.
Even if you don’t necessarily like the music, Tristen has a beautiful voice and that alone is worth giving this a listen.