Kristen Toedtman (many have been encouraged to say Tedman) is an artist who’s recent debut cd, “The Fall,” suggests she is a long distance runner who has just hit her stride.  While this cd by itself is a very strong statement, it also holds the promise of much more to come.  Comparisons to other female singer/songwriters who can bring depth and wit to common experiences of love, loss and reflection with such grace and power will conjure the names of contemporaries such as Norah Jones, Gillian Welch, Liz Phair and Alison Kraus as well as forebears like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.  The combination of lyrics that strike the perfect balance between the weighty and flirtatious aspects of her nature, harmony that reinvigorates the familiar, and performances that exude a complete respect for the songs makes this a cd that not only claims her place next to that elite company, but also presents her as an articulate, honest, and confident peddler of her craft who would put a smile on your face in a conversation over a cup of coffee or dreaming up roller derby names after a night of cheap beer at The Doll Factory.

The tracks are beautifully produced; Kristen’s vocals are warm and present – always mixed to carry the song.  The cd opens with “Games We Like To Play”. The first line, over her piano groove backed by a thinly textured B3 is, “It wouldn’t be the first time, nor would I be the last, claiming occupation in your weapon-laden past.  So allow me one confession before our time is through.  I don’t know what I’m fighting for, but I know I want to fight with you.” By the time the rest of the band and background singers enter on the next line, I am already committed to following this journey through to the end.  By the last track on the cd, the triumphant “Here to You”, my well-guarded cynicism has devolved to the point where I am singing along in full-throated, hopeful glee with the gospel choir “Lord, help me get from here to you” without the slightest sense of guilt or irony.  The true testament to this effort is the need to listen again and again in the following days because the songs are playing relentlessly in my psyche. The Fall – buy it on Amazon

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