Tristan Omand's hard-learned brand of folk songwriting is brimming with stories of offbeat characters, road-worn personal experience, and a healthy dose of subtle humor to even things out. His acoustic guitar style sets a sparse backdrop to distinctly American songs and stories, and his approach to lyricism owes as much to John Steinbeck as to John Prine.
For nearly ten years Tristan has been performing throughout the east coast as a solo act blending old country, blues, and folk while developing a picking style and lyrical delivery all his own. He has released four solo albums, two of which are available on vinyl, with a live record on the way in 2017. With close to a dozen solo tours under his belt, Tristan has performed throughout 23 US states and has had the honor of opening for artists such as John Fullbright, Livingston Taylor, Audra Mae, Dan Blakeslee, The Figgs, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, Heather Maloney, Tim Barry, Tan Vampires, Larry & His Flask, Brownbird Rudy Relic, Carrie Nation & The Speakeasy, and many more. Just barely 30 years old, Tristan has been a devoted guitar player and music fan since age 9 and currently resides in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Liner notes excerpt from 2014's "Eleven Dark Horses"
There are dark horses in everyone’s life. But existence isn’t steeped solely in the shadows. There is light around every corner. Whether or not one decides to walk toward that light is entirely up to the individual.
Finding light in today’s music scene is hard. A lot of the tunes released are watered down. They’re contrived. They’re soulless. There’s no appreciation for “what came before.” Self-entitlement looms large, which is not a positive thing. This sentiment is the dark horse of our society.
Tristan Omand is the opposite of this. His progression as a songwriter gets better each time he puts pen to paper, and voice to tape. His latest record, “Eleven Dark Horses,” is his most impressive effort to date. This is a man that appreciates music history. This is a man that knows the roots. This is a man that studies the past, learns from it, and betters his own being by channeling the lessons he’s acquired. Through this education he is becoming one of the absolute best voices on the roots/folk circuit. And when I say absolute, I mean absolute. He’s worked hard to get where he his.
Omand’s voice is timeless. His guitar picking – grin worthy. His lyrical dialogue – humbly (and sharply) intuitive. He’s pulling experiences from a contemporary world, and framing them in a soundtrack suffused brilliantly in the days of yore.
“Eleven Dark Horses” is an introspective collection of tales. Though murky at their core, Omand spins the stories in a way that offers hope. He’s in search of greater meaning. He’s on a quest to make his voice heard. The path he’s taking is long, windy, and often cold. It’s hard to be a musician in the 21st century. He sings of longing to be home, but has the full realization and appreciation that comfort doesn’t necessarily mean condemning oneself to the couch. Comfort comes in the realization that you’re striving for greatness. Greatness comes from spending countless hours, traveling limitless miles, and collecting immeasurable life experiences away from your comfort zone.
Greatness is found on this record. It’s a shimmering effort that is another firmly planted pillar in the construction of Omand’s legacy. Legacies aren’t built at home. They’re built when you’re out in the world experiencing life and documenting the ride – be it by horse or that Buick parked sideways on the lawn.
Christopher Hislop - Music Journalist / Author