If you have been an active traveler along the musical highway that is Aaron Lee Tasjan’s career then you have happily taken the many highways and byways with him through the years. While melodic pop, driving guitar rock, punk and folk have all been a successful part of his musical journey it has always been his bad ass guitar playing and lighthearted lyrics that stand out. Tasjan’s writing drips with wit and sarcasm as he sings about things he finds important and/or interesting. Songs about his home state of Ohio, Madonna being an American, telling the truth or an ex-girlfriend that is a lesbian drug addict are all delivered with a laidback tone that makes you wonder if he is being serious or funny. The answer to that question is yes. Since relocating to Nashville Tasjan’s music has evolved into a rich landscape of tall tales and poignant personal stances. In addition to his own original sound obvious influences through his career (Kinney, Snider, Fletcher, Hubbard) can be heard now and again as Tasjan has become more of a story teller than just a singer.
After treating listeners to a couple of recent EP’s Aaron Lee Tasjan has assembled a new full length record loaded – In the Blazes – with tracks that show off his musical and lyrical skills. Tasjan’s story telling style is laid back, humorous and to the point as he swings through songs loaded with country twang (“The Trouble With Drinkin’”), jangly guitars (“Get Gone”) and fuzz infused rock (“Bitch Can’t Sing”) He is able to shift gears from song to song keeping listeners guessing what is coming next. It is this variety in Tasjan’s music that makes it so enjoyable to listen to. The track “Dangerous Kind” finds Tasjan’s guitar playing at the forefront leading listeners through a tune loaded with disillusionment and aggravation. Singing about the dissolution of the American dream, powerful lyrics cut through the bold soundscape Tasjan has created on “Made In America”. The gospel tinged backing vocals are the piece that elevates an already good song to something even better. The track “E.N.S.A.A.T.” is classic Aaron Lee Tasjan. The beautifully arranged tune is full of lyrics like “Well the kids in this town don’t have a clue / they’re as white as the collar they painted blue” that bring a smile to your face while simultaneously making you think. As the song progresses Tasjan’s sadness comes out as he sings about the gentrification of East Nashville. The melodic “Lucinda’s Room” is a song that will get stuck in your head and stay for a while. It is an ode to fellow songwriters inspired by a hotel room. One of the best songs Tasjan has ever written has to be “Judee Was A Punk”. A staple of his live shows over the last few years it is a hauntingly beautiful tune about the life of Judee Sill. Jesus, drugs, crime and life as an outcast are turned into a compassionate song.
Sonically and lyrically In The Blazes is a complete record that delivers all that is good about music. Aaron Lee Tasjan brings listeners into his mind as he sings about things that are important to him. His latest batch of tunes are enjoyable to listen to and will have you singing along even when the record isn’t playing all while making you think about the little things in life that get overlooked. Tasjan’s voice and his jangly guitar carry each song but the added layers of twang, fuzz, gospel and blues make them complete. Aaron Lee Tasjan may not be a household name but his music will out shine most musicians that are.