Aaron Lee Tasjan - Silver Tears (New West)

Aaron Lee Tasjan – Silver Tears (New West)

I can’t quite work Aaron Lee Tasjan out. Is he more of a comedian that dabbles in music, or a musician who specialises in witty prose? Silver Tears, his fourth full length release, does little to clear the matter up. On the one hand, you have tracks like ‘12 Bar Blues‘, ostensibly a nod to Tom Waits in his Nighthawks At The Diner period, which feels like a smoky, maybe even seedy jazz club narration with some killer lines. “One time this guy came in to our bar and sang karaoke style Hootie and the Blowfish. We had to ask that guy to leave…” drawls Tasjan, hilariously, in a similar vein to the aforementioned Californian’s raspy voiced between song patter (minus the rasp!)

There’s a lot of humour here, sometimes very dark, but because of it, I’m having trouble taking Tasjan seriously. It doesn’t help that in his recent video for ‘Little Movies‘ (a huge sounding song – one of the best here – that lies somewhere between The Move and Harry Nilsson), he is attired in a gold lame, black and white polka dotted cowboy suit and sports a haircut that borders on mullet. He reminds me a little of how I imagine Jerry Seinfeld would look (and sound) in a nudie suit. Perhaps that’s why I’m struggling. Not that the songs are an effort, heck no, they are very well crafted, sometimes touching on swampy blues (‘Ready To Die‘), on other occasions they are introduced as though they have flown straight from a Kurt Vile record, and then he will knock you for six with the stirringly beautiful ‘On Your Side‘. Here we find perhaps the deepest insight into the man’s psyche: “I sing jokes and call them songs / Nobody knows where they belong / I’ve come up short for far too long / And what felt right, feels so wrong“. In essence, I guess the reason I have been finding it so difficult to take him seriously is because Tasjan himself is ardently unwilling to do so.

Once you’ve managed to acknowledge this, it becomes easier to immerse yourself into the album and spot the historical musical references if you can. Opener ‘Hard Life‘ could be The Everly Brothers after a drug bust, the jaunty ‘Out Of My Mind‘ feels like Ry Cooder circa 1977, ‘Dime‘ borrows and speeds up the intro to The Kinks‘ classic ‘Waterloo Sunset‘ with its strident gallop, and best of all, ‘Refugee Blues‘ plunders the conscience of man himself, something all too often sadly lacking in society of late. “Home is where you point the heart / Love is where you learn to start / Letting go to lose yourself in refugee blues” he sings admirably, and now the penny drops – Tasjan is a modern day Randy Newman – interesting, funny and warm-hearted – much like his compositions, in fact.

Silver Tears gets its UK release through New West on the 6th of January.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.