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Review: Aaron Lee Tasjan’s Out-There Exploration ‘Karma for Cheap’

An ambitious Nashville singer-songwriter takes a trip way way beyond country music

CURTIS WAYNE MILLARD

Nashville’s most eclectic singer-songwriter returns with a trippy stunner full of swirling, immersive rock songs that evoke both the effervescence of the Sixties and the grit of today. But while Aaron Lee Tasjan, as mesmerizing a guitar player as he is a songwriter, nods heavily to the Beatles on Karma for Cheap, he isn’t aping them.

Instead, on tracks like “If Not Now When” and “The Truth Is So Hard to Believe,” he marries Fab Four harmonies to his own sick licks, making for a beguilingly complex listen. “Strange Shadows” evokes the dreaminess of Santo and Johnny’s 1959 instrumental “Sleepwalk,” while Tasjan’s sky-high vocals on the gorgeous “Dream Dreamer” aim for Tiny Tim territory. On “Set You Free,” he sings, “Your mind is a pool that I want to dive into,” reinforcing his status as Music City’s premier acid-dropper. Such out-there exploration is precisely where Tasjan excels — making Karma for Cheap a valuable new addition to the fringes of Americana.

In This Article: Aaron Lee Tasjan

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