Album Review: Trysette – TRX+J

Trysette

photo by Jeanette Elaine Dubois; photo courtesy of Trysette

Album Review of Trysette: TRX+J

This is a fun compilation of music from Trysette and a talented team of collaborators. A songwriting and performance collaboration, this disc features four co-writers (Trysette, Rob Bonfiglio, Xander Hale, and Jon Ciorciari) and three different lead vocalists (Trysette, Rob, and Xander).

The song order differs, by the way, on Bandcamp (where the song titles are sorted alphabetically) and Spotify. I chose to listen to the album in the Spotify order. How did I write the review? In a third order, by featured vocalist, of course. Each lead vocalist’s songs suit them quite well, and it’s an extraordinary testament to this team’s songwriting skills that they cover such a broad swath of pop musical styles. I suppose that may have been one of Trysette’s goals for this project, to show off the breadth of her songwriting skills above and beyond her primary singing style.

Trysette – TRX+J album cover

image courtesy of Trysette

The four songs featuring Trysette as lead vocalist are light pop, with one more of a dance number. All take advantage of the light, airy pop atmosphere perfectly suited to her uniquely identifiable high range.

At both Bandcamp and Spotify, the album begins with Trysette’s “Fall For You.” You may hand-clap a bit or sing along with the background harmonies, or you might just dance or bob in your chair to this cheerful tune.

“Feels Like Magic” lies somewhere between a Disney movie background song and a girl group pop track, though it leans more toward something that would be a great featured background cut in a teen love story, especially one that throws in a little light witchcraft or, even better, yet another retelling of a Cinderella story.

“The Mirror Song” is a cheerful, woman-power pop song that’ll have girls and young women dancing around their bedrooms singing while psyching themselves up with a little “I Am Woman” attitude… for any purpose that would benefit from a song where the singalong lyric is “hot, hot, hot, hot.” This is a fun, catchy song, though the target market for those encouraging themselves with this song is definitely female.

The final song featuring Trysette in the lead is “Feels So Good,” a disco-flavored number that’ll have you dancing in your seat, though I’d be curious whose voice is co-lead through much of this with her – they’ve found a complementary harmonic vocal blend.

Xander Hale shows quite a bit of vocal range in the three songs on which he’s featured.

“Leave a Light On” is a heartfelt, powerful ballad full of the sort of soaring instrumental musical support that’s common on big, emotional soft pop/rock hits… or songs during emotional scenes in motion pictures.

“Put Your Hands Up,” meanwhile, is a catchy, bouncy dance song with great synth hooks. Something I’d definitely dance to, with a broad enough appeal to have a shot at some pop radio airplay.

Finally, “Movin’ Up,” which closes the album, instantly stylistically brings to mind Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” particularly with its recurring, song-driving hook. “Movin’ Up” has a bit more obvious energy than Thicke’s hit, and it’d be a great nightclub – or radio – track.

The first song featuring Rob Bonfiglio‘s voice in the lead is “True Believer,” a rambling soft rock song that takes advantage of Rob’s emotive voice and sports a timeless sound, in that it could have been recorded with roughly the same arrangement in the ’60s, the ’00s, or today.

The other song featuring Rob in the lead, “The Magic in You,” sports a ’60s/’70s pop-song vibe. A bit of the Beatles, particularly in the song structure, kind of the way Cheap Trick and Enuff Z’Nuff infused this sort of songwriting into some of their ’80s hits, though with a more soft rock arrangement than the aforementioned bands. This song, in particular, is the one on the disc that seems like it’s one you’ve heard before… on steady rotation for a while somewhere.

In all, this is a great album containing a variety of songs written by TRX+J, and between the two options I’d recommend listening to it in the Spotify order, as it offers the variety of a half-hour of pop radio listening. Very glad to have this album in my collection; check it out.

Trysette

photo by Jeanette Elaine Dubois; photo courtesy of Trysette

Looking Ahead

In addition to her solo career, Trysette has performed as a backup singer on John Fogerty’s tour the last couple of years. During the pandemic, she has also performed some virtual concerts, most recently on August 22nd. Though she has nothing currently scheduled, you can find future performance dates (solo and otherwise), when available, on the “Tour Dates” page of her website.

Album Review: Trysette – Shadowgirl

Trysette

photo by Fred Bailey; photo courtesy of Trysette

The Backstory

A while back, I reviewed Trysette’s last CD, Feel So Pretty. This Aussie dynamo’s sweet, high, often breathy vocal style makes her songs quick and easy to identify. Indeed, some combination of vocal and stylistic uniqueness is a key to standing out from the crowd, and Trysette is a standout artist.

Trysette

photo by Robin Craig; photo courtesy of Trysette

While Feel So Pretty was an original composition, Shadowgirl is an album of cover songs. Early in 2016, Trysette created an account on Patreon through which her fans could pledge at least a dollar per song and be rewarded with a new cover-song every month. Patreon is a terrific website through which fans and friends can support their favorite artists in exchange for exclusive works of art – or, at least, access to them before anyone else. In this case, Trysette produced 10 songs during 2016, which her supporters (or “patrons”) received as they were produced. And, at the end of the year, Trysette packaged those songs into the album Shadowgirl.

The album title for Shadowgirl stems from some long-shadow photo fun Trysette had on Facebook, which sparked her friends and fans to follow suit and found a home on this page of Trysette’s website. But that’s enough introduction; let’s move on to the music, shall we?

Album Review of Trysette: Shadowgirl

Trysette - Shadowgirl

image courtesy of Trysette

As I mentioned above, Trysette’s vocals are unique. Her voice is high and sweet and a little raw but with a smooth power. And, stylistically, she mostly utilizes a smoky, breathy delivery.

Oh, am I making it sound like she doesn’t have a powerful voice? Most certainly not the case. And she proves it from the start, with a warm, rich rendition of “Natural Woman.” Yes, the song that no one can resist singing along to. And I’m sure I’m not alone in failing to realize I’m singing until halfway through the chorus… every time. But this is about Trysette, not me. And I certainly don’t find all the intricate textures in the melody that she does. For such a familiar song, this truly is a Trysette original performance. No surprise; her covers quickly sound like they’re her very own songs. And that’s what makes this record full of cover songs a worthwhile addition to your album collection.

Trysette

photo by David Lassen; photo courtesy of Trysette

I’ll run through my personal favorites in the collection, though Trysette does such a fine job with them that each will be someone’s favorite.

“I’d Rather Go Blind” has a jazzy flair, with Trysette’s lyrical wails adding well-placed punctuation. Her exotic enunciation during “Beautiful” adds a personal twist to the number. And she really connects with the lyrics during “Landslide,” with some warm piano sounds supporting Trysette’s heartfelt gravelly crooning.

Cold Chisel cover “Flame Trees”, the way she performs it, has the elusive, light melody I’d expect from a Trysette original. It’s as if sunlight dances through the verses, saving what would otherwise be a melancholy musing. Though not adjacent on the album, the other song that most encompasses this same very Trysette-ish thoughtfully meandering nature is “Fix You.” Indeed, here the vocals plead a bit more forcefully, and the piano-work is more powerful, helping the song build and retreat, ebb and flow. In the end, though, it’s a terrific song, one I think improves upon Coldplay’s original.

Trysette

photo courtesy of Trysette

“I Try” is one of those slow-build soft-pop numbers, where Trysette’s vocal grows larger and more forceful as the song builds to power, supported by some backing vocals, too. “To Find You,” meanwhile, is delivered with stripped-down piano support and sung with an uneven pace in which Trysette moves forward and back around the melody, hoarsely, breathily delivering thoughtful wisdom, sounding very much like one of my favorite Trysette originals, “City Boy.”

To close the album, Trysette does a fine job, naturally, with the requisite December Christmas cover, “Santa Baby,” which is stylistically quite well-suited to her voice.

Trysette

photo courtesy of Trysette

But I’d like to close this review with “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” my absolute favorite in this collection. Trysette’s voice softly struts, while a toe-tapping tempo drives the rhythm. Her version is sonically closer to the “Seeb Remix” of Mike Posner’s tune than the more deliberate original version of the song, but it’s bit slower than the remix and Trysette’s lightly playful vocal is at the steering wheel. She delivers this song in such a way I can’t imagine it being performed by anyone else.

Indeed, the key to creating a good cover album is selecting well-suited songs, and Trysette has done that. The covers that border on great are those that are stylistically adjusted a little to really suit the performer in such a way that the songs no longer feel like covers but, rather, strong originals, and Trysette has some of those in this collection. She’s a classic, original, talented singer (and pianist). I really enjoy Shadowgirl, and I hope it will tide me over until her next release.

Album Review: Trysette – Feel So Pretty

Trysette – Feel So Pretty

Trysette

photo by Robin Craig; photo courtesy of Trysette

The Backstory

I was initially introduced to Trysette through some common musician friends. As was so often the case during my hiatus from music journalism, longtime music industry contacts were behind my introduction to a great new musician.

As for Trysette’s backstory, she is a classically trained pianist and a pop singer/songwriter. Her latest CD, Feel So Pretty, was recorded in Los Angeles with a talented supporting cast including Mike Baird (Joe Cocker, Journey), Randy Ray Mitchell (Donna Summer), and Bob Malone (John Fogerty). I became familiar with Trysette’s music through her video for the title track, “Feel So Pretty,” and “Good Day,” a song from her previous album, Le Cafe Ancien, she shared for free download this past year (I believe this past summer); “Good Day” has since been a mainstay on my smartphone playlist.

Album Review of Trysette: Feel So Pretty

Trysette - Feel So Pretty

image courtesy of Trysette

Trysette generally tends toward mellower songs befitting her sweet, high voice. The production on Feel So Pretty is crisp, highlighting Trysette’s voice, and the songwriting is well-constructed, delivered with tight musicianship befitting the caliber of musicians she had surrounding her in the studio. But, of course, a soft pop album is all about the songs, and these are the sorts of songs that grow on the listener with each run through her album.

The first track on Feel So Pretty, the exceedingly pleasant “You Must Know,” opens slowly and builds, constructed to capture the listener. Track two, “Hands on Me,” opens with a sassy, twangy rock guitar line that hints at the lyrics yet to come.

“Under My Skin (Band Version)” highlights more of the nuances Trysette’s voice is capable of. But that’s nothing compared to the depth the piano accompaniment draws out in her vocals during “Like Water.”

The middle of the disc shifts gears just a bit, featuring some songs with impact. The title track is catchy, and it will cause the listener to sing along. So beware, gents, because “Feel So Pretty” will surely provide you with an awkward public moment or two if you add it to your mobile playlist. Catchy, fun tune.

Trysette

photo by Fred Bailey; photo courtesy of Trysette

That’s followed by an emotional rendition of “Chasing Cars.” Trysette’s discussion of how she chose to record this song as her album’s cover song is interesting, and one listen proves the selection of this sogns was a good call; quite simply, this song suits her voice, and she delivers a personal, original version of it.

The next cut, “Keep Me Dancing,” is a soaring, powerful, soft ballad, my favorite pure ballad on the album. It’s a rich, full, orchestral pop ballad suitable for radio airplay and slow dances.

The next song, “City Boy,” is my personal favorite, not because it’s better than the others but, rather, because it strikes a personal chord with me. The song was originally recorded by Trysette a long time ago, but I’m glad she included it on her Feel So Pretty disc. I’m not familiar with the original version, but this is a catchy, lush recording whose lyrics (“The more you earn/The more you spend/The more you got/The more you want“) transcend time, leading into the tuneful wail of “ciiiity boy.”

Trysette

photo by Robin Craig; photo courtesy of Trysette

The home stretch of the disc features songs whose insistence vocals suggest a deeply personal connection. I imagine the last section of this disc, for this very reason, may be many listeners’ favorite. It kicks off with “Is That What You Said,” a soft, sweet, emotional piano ballad. The following song, also balladic, soars, with Trysette’s delivery of the entreaty “This Should Be a Good Thing” giving away the lyric’s true emotion.

The final two tracks, “Take a Bow” and “Under My Skin (Intimate Version)” close the album by showcasing Trysette’s soft, high, strong vocals with their unique, identifiable intonation. Feel So Pretty takes the listener on a pleasant journey, a journey that gets more pleasant with each listen, as different favorite songs emerge.

In summary, Trysette has recorded a unique disc full of well-written soft pop songs, delivered in a unique vocal style. Well worth checking out; within a few listens, you’ll have selected your own favorite tracks.