On Sunday night at Hotel Café, Kristin Toedtman carried listeners passionately through eight distinctive moods, courtesy of a vibrant eight-song set.
Opening with sassy/jazzy “Bad News,” leading into a Salsa-inspired “Chasing the Dance” and then through bluesey burlesque “Just Trust,” Kristen proved an appreciation for and mastery of multiple genres. While artists and songs are often described by stylistic allusions or emulations, Kristen’s music seems to step beyond this. When she plays a song that is rooted in tango, the temperature of the room is heated a few degrees; when she follows with free-spirited and island-inspired “Day I fell,” you can feel an ocean breeze and visualize birds flapping by.
Although Kristen’s voice has a formally-trained operatic quality to it, it never borders on pretentious or over-worked; she does “effortless” in the way that a true professional should. It is a real gift to make people in the audience feel like “anyone can do what I’m doing”, because when people believe this sense of ease, they are empowered to sing along, tap their feet, and experience the music by giving back to it.
Kristen classifies herself as an Acoustic/Soul/Pop artist, yet this is a bit of a pigeon-hole description for someone who successfully conducts herself, 2 other vocalists, a dancer, guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, Wurlitzer, tambourine and maraca for her first solo show at Hotel Café. As if these talents are not enough, Kristen is also a storyteller. In “Too Soon,” a tender track with chilling guest vocals by Katie Cole, Kristen shows how life can give you all the right answers but at the wrong time. As one moves gradually or swiftly towards a new home, there is much to be missed and found: the pieces of life and of yourself that you have to leave behind, and also the identity that the future needs you to belong to.
The set’s final song “Wrong Time of Year” coupled sensual guitar components with gospel-driven piano and vocalized audience sentiments with lyrics “when can I see you again?” To answer this question, check www.myspace.com/kristentoedtman for upcoming shows. In the mean time, purchase Kristen’s first EP “I Say Tedman” due out this summer.
Review by Bre Goldsmith ( www.bregoldsmith.com )