Aaron Lee Tasjan is the epitome of versatile. Over the years, he’s played guitar with everyone from folkie Peter Yarrow (a long, long time ago) and Sean Lennon to The New York Dolls, but it’s his solo work that is beyond classification. From record to record he’s been agnostic to genres, dipping in and out of various styles offering an eclectic, but sublime mix of Americana, pop, folk, psychedelic and electronic rock. And Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!, his latest record for New West, is just as eclectic and certainly just as sublime.
Across nearly a dozen tracks Tasjan builds on the foundation of 2018’s Karma For Cheap and 2016’s Silver Tears for one of his most enjoyably accessible, but still pleasantly quirky records yet. Justifiably so, Tasjan has been compared songwriters Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson for his knack at tackling big, emotionally fraught themes with humor and relatability. And he certainly doesn’t shy away from that challenge on his latest where he covers mental health and issues of sexuality and identity on tracks like “Up All Night” and “Feminine Walk,” (a song that slays thanks to a brilliant set of lyrics and a stripped-down sound). Elsewhere, “Don’t Overthink It,” is a deceptively simple song until you realize how intricate the guitar playing actually is with an addictive melody that you can’t shake.
The album opens with the seemingly sunny pop nugget “Sunday Women” before segueing into one of the catchiest songs on the record, “Computer Love,” a requiem for guitar rock in music. At times he pulls off near-falsetto vocals, seeming to be channeling Roy Orbison. At other times, he sounds remarkably like Tom Petty.
There is not a single track on the album that doesn’t deserve to be there. Even more so than any of his previous records, Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! is his the most consistently satisfying album yet.
Photo credit: CURTIS WAYNE MILLARD