Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, May 27, 2019

Aaron Lee Tasjan brought genre-defying melodies to the Songbyrd April 7

His performance of his latest album interlaced witty comedy and soulful storytelling

Aaron Lee Tasjan brought genre-defying melodies to the Songbyrd April 7
Aaron Lee Tasjan brought genre-defying melodies to the Songbyrd April 7.

Aaron Lee Tasjan’s concert began with the sweet, melodic vocals of opening act country singer-songwriter Rorey Carroll, who was joined by violinist Luke Moller in their raw, gratifying performance of songs from Carroll’s latest album “Love is an Outlaw,” which was released in 2016.

The simplicity of Carroll’s crooning “Black Dog” set a tone of vulnerability that echoed throughout the night. As Carroll opened up to the audience about the stories and life lessons that inspired the tunes “Love is an Outlaw,” “142 Night Train” and “I’m Low,” she reflected on her Nashville upbringing and past relationships, sprinkling witty humor and sarcasm throughout. 

The audience listened intently to Carroll’s musical narratives, relishing in her enchanting melodies, and only cheered louder at the mention of Tasjan’s name.

Tasjan, upon entering the stage, immediately commanded the entire crowd’s attention with his red velvet jacket, bandana scarf, sunglasses and top hat that was embroidered with a blue eye. His strikingly vibrant aesthetic, juxtaposed with the Songbyrd’s intimate ‘Byrdcage’ created an invigorating yet peaceful atmosphere where the audience could enjoy his serenade.

He began the night with his lively and jazzy piece “Songbird,” which was especially fitting to the concert’s venue at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe. Tasjan’s band immediately won over the crowd with its echoing harmonies and got the entire audience bopping along to its bouncy rhythms. 

After a seamless piano transition to Tasjan’s relaxed and revitalizing “If Not Now When,” the artist related to his audience’s struggle of tirelessly watching current events and controversies in the news, while enticing them to pursue spontaneous moments of creativity.

“When I wrote that song, [the line, “If not now when”] stuck with me. It encapsulates a lot of what I’m trying to say on the record, so I used that as the title because it felt right.”

Tasjan, with a courageous, yet down-to-earth attitude to musicianship, achieved a seemingly effortless fusion of sarcastic storytelling and meaningful societal commentary. His latest album “Karma for Cheap,” which was released in August, centers around the faults of our fast paced culture, but is also meticulous as not to overly vere into politics.

While introducing his euphonic hit “The Truth Is So Hard to Believe,” Tasjan said, “A lot of people think this song is about politics, but I’m not that smart of a guy.” 

But despite his song’s potential political connections to fake news controversies, the musician earned many laughs by dedicating the piece to Donald Trump and his hair, saying, “I don’t know anything about politics, but I do know something about hair.”

Apart from Tasjan’s insightful societal commentary and playful approach to America’s tense political climate, I was most struck by his witty sense of humor. 

“My name is Aaron Lee Tasjan … I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly,” Tasjan joked. His open and optimistic way of creating and performing music shone through as he explained that fans often find their own story between the lines of his songs. “I think that’s kinda groovy,” he said.

Throughout the night, Tasjan amazed audience members with his classic number, “Lucinda’s Room,” as well as a wide variety of hits from “Karma for Cheap,” including “End of the Day,” “Set You Free” and “Crawling at Your Feet.” He ended the night by tickling the ivories on an ornately decorated piano to his tune “Heart Slows Down,” and illuminating his well-rounded and genre-defying musicianship through upbeat bops and honeyed melodies alike.

The musician’s authentic self-expression and intimate, genuine connection to the audience was epitomized in his farewell, as he exclaimed, “Thank you for letting me be a part of your world…Stay groovy!”

mbaumann@theeagleonline.com 


Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.