With her latest release, Tristen proves that a great song can come from any place — or any time. “Dream Within a Dream” finds the eclectic Nashville artist setting Edgar Allan Poe’s 1849 poem of the same name to garage-rocking 12-bar blues. The results are both wildly inventive and irreverent, as Tristen coos and growls her way through Poe’s words. “I stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore/And I hold within my hand grains of the golden sand,” she wails, acknowledging the temporal nature of life that the poet himself dwelled upon.” In the end, they slip away, just like her own tears.
The video for the song (directed by Shane Tutmarc) is both a natural fit for the poem and somewhat incongruous, as it juxtaposes seemingly vintage footage of a beach vacation and the roiling sea with the track’s ramshackle beat. Women hurry down the dunes toward the ocean while seagulls swoop and dive, only for each to return from where they came when the clip is played in reverse.
“There’s a reason why Poe’s ‘Dream Within a Dream,’ Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night,’ and Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ remain classic,” Tristen said in a statement. “They finger the wound of mankind, prodding at how mercurial this reality is, consciousness as participation in a shared reality, and how the sands of existence creep through all hands. It rhymes so beautifully. It had to be a song. I thought, perhaps it would be easier to remember these classics if they had a familiar musical background, like the 12 bar blues.”
Tristen, who has collaborated with a diverse array of artists from Jenny Lewis to space-country duo Steelism, has festival appearances on tap for the summer, including Knoxville, Tennessee’s Rhythm N Blooms Music Festival this weekend. On Friday, she’ll perform an in-store at Nashville record shop Grimey’s New & Preloved Music.
Here’s her upcoming itinerary:
May 17 — Nashville, TN @ Grimey’s
May 19 — Knoxville, TN @ Rhythm N’ Blooms Music Festival
June 22 — Iowa City, IA @ Iowa City Block Party
August 1-4 — Appleton, WI @ Mile of Music
August 9 — Hammond, IN @ Cold Roses Brew and Music Fest