Country Jukebox Jury LP: Aaron Lee Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!

The title is perhaps a nod to the Judy Garland album on Broadway Judy! Judy! Judy! This one begins with a song lamenting how hard it is to find Sunday women. This is music from East Nashville, where the hipsters go and is equal parts roots, rock, power-pop and California west coast chillout.

The first side of the album is as much pop and rock as it is roots. Up All Night is a heck of a pop song, with an unforgettable melody that someone like James Mercer from The Shins would write. The production is a homage to Jeff Lynne of ELO, which is always a sign of a muso. Computer of Love is Nilssonish, melodic and uses the word ‘avatar’ in the chorus.

Beatle influence peppers the album. There are some sumptuous diminished chords on Now You Know. Not That Bad is a musician’s tale about creating a song, which is very meta, set to some mellow acoustic guitar. Another Lonely Day is about ten Paul McCartney songs blended together, with some multi-layered harmonies over some finger-picking. The final chord is gorgeous as well.

Don’t Overthink It sounds like a George Harrison song, with the quavers in the bass and wide open chorus. John Lennon would write a lyric like ‘cartoon music for plastic people’, coupled with a middle eight where he repeats ‘are you losing your mind?’ melodically. The song’s production, guitar solo and chords remind me of Sondre Lerche, another guy who knows his pop heritage.

Feminine Walk combines Nilsson and McCartney, with a drizzle of Gerry Rafferty, and namechecks Spotify, where I listened to this album, and rock stars: ‘Bowie and Bolan and Jagger, Grace Jones, Joan Jett’. Aaron positions himself as ‘the metropolitan Conway Twitty’ but I’ll listen a few more times to work out what point he’s making about his perambulatory style.

Ultimately this sounds like a singular artist condensing his influences into something novel and fun, even if it can come across as homage or pastiche (note the panning in the production of the power-poppy Dada Bois). I think I will listen to this album all year, so well done to Aaron for a comprehensive piece of work. It’s only country because it’s made in Nashville but I am sure many country acts will borrow these songs.

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