Aaron Lee Tasjan to perform hits from Karma for Cheap at Songbyrd Sunday
Tasjan’s latest album reflects his unique, genre-defying sound
Americana-fused rock act Aaron Lee Tasjan will showcase his third solo album, “Karma for Cheap” at the Songbyrd on Sunday. Fresh off his recent tour with rock band Cheap Trick, Tasjan is returning to D.C. solo to illuminate it with his eclectic musical style.
“[My music] comes from a place of a guy who grew up in the Midwest, listening to the stuff that was on the radio: Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, classic rock-type stuff,” Tasjan said. “It has some of that to it for sure, but it’s kind of its own weird version of that. It doesn’t sound exactly like any of those bands, really.”
Tasjan’s distinct sound has been described as a return to the “pop-kissed soul of old-time rock and roll” by NPR Music and “American heartland rock gets a British Invasion makeover” by Rolling Stone Country.
“Describing music is an interesting conundrum because when you’re talking about sound, if I were to say, for example, that my music sounded like rock, that’s gonna mean ten different things to ten different people,” Tasjan said. “I really prefer to let the music speak for itself.”
Tasjan’s genre-defying music is a combination of his fresh sound’s unique individuality and the familiarity of your favorite music styles. It unites fans of rock and roll, indie folk, prog-pop, and music from the 1960s in cohesive appreciation of soulful, heartfelt music.
“Karma for Cheap,” released in August 2018, was named the No. 2 Best Album of the Year by The Nashville Scene and ranked on Rolling Stone Country’s list of the 40 Best Country & Americana Albums of 2018. The Nashville Scene attests that the album “may be the greatest power-pop record ever cut in Nashville.”
Tasjan explains that the inspiration for his latest album “Karma for Cheap” lies in today’s culture and its overemphasis on speed, productivity and convenience.
“There’s some things that don’t come easily that we forget these days because we’re so focused on the convenience of everything,” Tasjan said. “Important, spiritual, soul-serving, and goodhearted intentions, habits, and positivity are all things that you have to work on and develop over time. The idea that you could get something like that quickly or inexpensively was kind of funny to me.”
“Karma for Cheap” takes risks by experimenting with guitar speed and distorted, blown out drum sounds and featuring more pop-oriented songs that are much more self-reflective than Tasjan’s past records. Tasjan also strove to capture the sound he achieves when playing gigs, describing the album as “born out of the live show.”
“If you’re not doing something slightly embarrassing, I don’t think you’re really risking anything,” Tasjan said. “Part of it for me is to challenge myself to go outside of what I’m comfortable with because I want to get somewhere new through doing something that I’m not used to.”
Tasjan embraces the genre-defying reputation his individuality and spontaneity have earned him. A self-defined “musical searcher”, he looks forward to what other music he may be inspired to create in the future.
“I’m settling into the idea that I’m always searching for something new and each record is gonna be it’s own world and it’s own sound, vibe and look,” Tasjan said. “You can really surprise yourself with what you can create when you put different things together that normally, wouldn’t necessarily go together.”