Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
It's a grand and very delicate game that gets played between man and woman and it often resembles the games played between boys and girls. There isn't much that separates the tricks and trapdoors, the lures and the mischievousness of these encounters, as they occur out in the wild. There are no mild or soft actions in the sport, but those of calculated aim, of the kind of sick, sick perversion of emotions and attachments. Everyone's made to be broken and it happens to all. You just have to check behind the ears for the water back there or the crack marks that have been glued, the best they can be, back into some version of the original shape. Tristen Gaspadarek, the lead singer and songwriter of the Nashville-based group Tristen and the Ringers, feeds us a worn in and straight-forward narration of what could be going on in those poisoned heads and hearts of the lovelorn and the love-heavies, when they're trying to navigate through the blasted minefield of private parts and public sentiments. Gaspadarek gives us her diagnosis in the form of songwriting that shares some of the finer shades and tints of Stevie Nicks and adds into the mix the kind of greener pasture, clean-clothes-drying-outside-on-the-line-easiness of dappled country and bluegrass music. It comes off as innocent observations, derived from very experienced places - as if they're coming from someone who knows damned well the ins and the outs of misbegotten love and the misread tells. Tristen's debut album is an accomplished collection that brings us front and center, into a world of fissions and fractures, of using people and being used by other people. It features couples and those who are on the outs or long past being on the outs trying to figure out what roles they're supposed to play now, or what they can get away with. There are all kinds of power struggles going on throughout the album, introducing us to what it sounds like to be floundering and still confident at the same time. Love is nothing but the most unconfident feeling that a man or woman can ever have and everything on "Charlatans At The Garden Gate" is a reminder of that, giving us a good mind to never trust anyone who tells us that they will love us forever.