Singer-songwriters tend to emulate their heroes. Some rearrange covers and add their own flare to a song, others shoot for a duet or a compilation record, but not Nashville’s Aaron Lee Tasjan. Tasjan opted to indulge in copious amounts of THC a’la his role model Guy Clark, after hearing of Clark burning down more than a few before penning what turned out to be some of his best numbers.
Enter Tasjan’s latest record In the Blazes, out today on First of 3 Records. The disc is his hazy tribute of sorts to the idea of Clark’s writing songs in a cloud of mental relaxation and deep thought.
Tasjan’s musical journey couples dumb luck with unduanted artistry. He has handled guitar duties for not one, but two of America’s best rock bands of the ‘7os, late ’80s and early ’90s — New York Dolls and Drivin N Cryin — not to mention a brief stint with indie-folkers Alberta Cross, Semi-Precious Weapons, and the Madison Square Gardeners, all the while manning his personal songwriting and playing shows as a solo artist whenever and wherever possible. His is a rare path of playing with heroes first and then blazing his own trail as a solo artist, while calling on close friends Sylvain Sylvain and Kevn Kinney for introspection on a path they cut decades before.
After 4 EPs in as many years, In the Blazes is as potent a full-length album as you’ll find in 2015. It’s already touted as a candidate for album of the year at this very site, and I’d be hard-pressed to make a case otherwise. It’s full of the highest quality song-crafting by a humble music journeyman who takes us on a tour of country, blues, folk, and rock and roll. Tasjan is a roots music poster boy of sorts, channeling Prine, Kristofferson, Davis, and the fun loving, tongue-in-cheek sides of Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. He’s also got a guitar prowess to melt the paint off a Cashville yuppie wagon.
Enough waxing poetic, lets get to the meat. Ladies and Gentlemen … In the Blazes: