As It Should Be
Almost two hundred fans packed The Basement, Nashville's indie music mecca, for a performance by Treva Blomquist that marked the summertime release of As It Should Be, her second CD. There was that palpable sort of expectation in the air you only find when word is out that the performer taking the stage has unique gifts -- and that those on hand are lucky to be in on the fact early. The Suits - Treva's 4-piece electric/acoustic band, was augmented as they are on the new CD by a lush string section. The sound Treva delivered cannot be instantly pegged "folk," "Americana," "chick rock," "soul," or even "jazz," though there are elements in her music of all of those. Enthralled critics have described it as "deep," "starkly beautiful," and "exceptionally listenable." \'And what she says of the music herself is simply that "It's from the heart. I want it to bring on that uplifted, lighter feeling that follows the sigh after a long day of work, to help somebody unwind, relax-and smile." Treva (pronounced "TREE-va") is blessed with an extraordinary vocal range - forceful and edgy on it's low end, precise yet vulnerable on the high side. More to the point, she puts those gifts to use knowingly and precisely, to serve her emotionally varied songs. The result is utterly fetching. Comparisons to the vocalizing of Patty Griffin, Jewel and Mindy Smith have been made-but they don't quite nail it. Odds are, in a few years, people will be trying to compare voices to Treva's. Her melodically crafted songs of life and relationships run an emotional gamut from chilled down and at peace to reawakening in love. Whether entirely self-penned or the result of collaboration, the songs are marked by a strong storytelling sense and a gift for finding a fresh, specific point of view, song by song. The driving, catchy "You Deserve Better" takes the form of observations for a friend who really needs to hear them. "Life Goes On," a standout on her first, acoustic CD Plain Vanilla Me, inhabits the pivotal instant, years after a relationship ends, when some emotional perspective takes hold. The remarkable ballads "I Could Get Used to This" and the gorgeous, ecstatic "Love Abounds," transport the listener to the stunning moment of completion, safety and overflowing happiness in love realized. Her lyrics are based on careful observations of life-though not always from her own. "I'm the worst liar in the world," she laughs, "and I have a really hard time making things up, so almost everything in my songs are true -- though it may be happening to other people. I see a story that I connect with and that I think other people will relate to, so I write it down. I'm not simply writing for myself. I want the music in each song to be whatever it is-but being in Nashville, I've become more aware of writing and performing for an audience." Treva Blomquist migrated to the Music City from Chehalis, Washington, a quiet little country town with a population of approximately 8000, where fun was riding horses, playing softball and attending 4-H club meetings. Music was singing in church, in fact, she'd first picked up a guitar with the modest intention of helping to lead worship there. By the time she transferred from Centralia Community College to Middle Tennessee State University, near Nashville, she'd made the decision to study classical voice. The training pays off in the Polish and precision she brings to her vocals. While at MTSU, Treva first began to write songs; some of the earliest, which would appear on her first CD, focused on the after-effects of a traumatic relationship break-up. (The songs on As It Should Be, it can be reported, and easily guessed at, are the work of the happily married young woman she is today.) Even as she was finishing up school, her songwriting capabilities were already-and quickly-- being recognized. She was a finalist in the first songwriting competition she ever entered, the 2005 Kerrville (Texas) New Folk Competition; past finalists have included Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett. In the following year she won honorable mention in the USA Songwriting Competition's folk category (The Waifs won that one) and went on to be the Grand Prize Winner at the RiverBluff Performing Songwriter Competition with "I Could Get Used to This." During that time, Treva began to meet some of the core collaborators with whom she'd write some of her songs, and who'd become members of her versatile band-including Suits' lead guitarist and writing collaborator Ben Gortmaker. The Suits are Brad Odum on drums, Drew Wilson on bass and Eric Quiram on keyboards. They will kick up a loud and soulful noise when Treva calls on them to pound home indie rock numbers, yet they handle the modulating tones of her transcendent ballads with a gentile sensitive touch. Occasionally you'll catch Treva with honorary Suits playing pedal steel, from one side of the Nashville area heritage, and classical violin and cello players, from another. This is one singer-songwriter who values and keeps good company. "Most of my songwriting collaborators are personal friends," Treva says, "so we understand what's going on in each other's lives and already know our strengths and weaknesses. I enjoy performing acoustic because the focus shifts to the story within the song, but I think I prefer performing with The Suits. There's a bigger sound, and it can be more dynamic; which really draws people in emotionally. Plus, The Suits are some of my very closest friends, so it's fun, too!" That musical dynamism is very much at work on the new independent release As It Should Be, recorded and mixed at Nashville's Compass Studios and mastered at Independent Mastering. The quality of the production is very evident in the result, which is available now at Treva's shows, CD Baby, iTunes and Pandora. That uplifting emotional power that listeners keep telling Treva they find in the music? Well that's heard in every Treva Blomquist performance-and we're all going to be hearing a lot more of those.