US singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan releases new studio album Karma For Cheap on August 31 via New West Records, the follow up to his acclaimed Silver Tears.
Listen to new track ‘If Not Now When’ below.
Tipping Tasjan in 2017, The Guardian noted: “Tasjan is a remarkable guitar player (he turned down a scholarship at Berklee College of Music to dive straight into a professional career), a former glam rocker-turned-uncontainable musical force, from New Albany, Ohio. Last year he released his second album, Silver Tears, which was a glorious, eclectic, wilfully melodic collection of roots-rock, but also a kind, eloquent record that glimmers with humour.”
Tasjan’s ‘Ready To Die’ from Silver Tears was nominated for International Song of the Year in the 2018 UK Americana Awards and his blistering live version of the track was a highlight of the Awards ceremony at Hackney Empire in February.
Karma for Cheap is Tasjan’s third LP and second for his label New West Records, based in his current hometown of Nashville. The record was co-produced by ALT and his friends Jeff Trott (Stevie Nicks, Liz Phair, Meiko, Joshua Radin) and Gregory Lattimer (Albert Hammond Jr.) and features Aaron Lee’s road band—guitarist Brian Wright, bassist Tommy Scifres and drummer Seth Earnest—with whom he’s been touring heavily for the last two years.
The roots of Karma for Cheap, stretch deep, drinking up the sounds of a Southern California childhood spent listening to The Beatles while riding around with his mom at the wheel of their navy blue Volvo station wagon. Back to the pre-teen year he picked up a six-string and started figuring out the chords in those Lennon-McCartney tunes, and the blissful innocence of falling in love with music for the first time.
Aaron Lee Tasjan says he aims to use his music for good, but he’s no protest singer. And Karma for Cheap isn’t some heavy-handed, didactic political record. It’s a finely tuned rock & roll seismograph measuring the dark and uncertain vibrations of the time in which it was created.
“When you’re a songwriter,” Tasjan says, you’re dealing in truths and untruths – that’s part of your commerce as a citizen of the world.” Being a songwriter in the post-truth world of Trump’s America isn’t easy. Tasjan valiantly wrestles with this new normal in songs like “Set You Free” (“it’s a smokescreen scene and nobody knows what’s real”—fake news!) and “The Truth Is So Hard to Believe.” What will we do when we can no longer map the line between fact and fiction? “Hearts in chains and hands are off the wheel,” Tasjan sings, tapping the collective cultural anxiety in a new American dream.
“The sound of this new record is a little more rough and ready, more raw than anything I’ve done before,” Tasjan says. “Seems like a good time for it. We’re living in a pretty raw feed right now, and a lot of these new songs reflect that. They deal with being stuck in the deluge of horseshit every day. On social media, you see people suckered into getting all irate over some post that, in the end, turns out to be completely fake. We have to be aware of these mindsets, these traps and emotional pitfalls that send us spinning. Music for me is a comfort thing. And I’m trying to sing about all this to remind myself not to get caught up in the game. I tried to write a record that offers some comfort, encouragement and hope, as much as it’s possible to be hopeful right now.”
For all the album’s wrestling with social and political discord and the stresses of modern life, Karma for Cheap finds its silver lining in the innocence of a wide-eyed kid’s maiden voyage into the electrifying thrall of rock & roll. The heaviness of the lyrical content is tempered by the joy and wonder of an artist reconnecting with what made him fall in love with playing music in the first place. The sound of it, the way it made him feel when he was 11 years old – the year Tasjan moved from Ohio to California and scored his first guitar and a stack of iconic CDs by The Beatles, Oasis and Tom Petty.