Aaron Lee Tasjan: Karma For Cheap (New West Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I don’t know if magnum opus is the proper phrase because Aaron is still a going concern. It is too soon to starting bandying words around such as masterpiece or phrases like magnum opus. The point is, this album is going to be talked about for a while. And it is a gem. It’s always easy to compare another performer or group to the “Fab Four”, but in this case there is a clear line. It’s as if John, George, Paul, and Ringo were contributors on this album. They were, in fact, their influence on Aaron’s songwriting, composing, mixing, and engineering is undeniable. 

This collection also plays like a late stage Beatles’ album with perfect flow from one track to the next. There are ten acts in this play called Karma For Cheap and the suspense really builds from the the initial song to the last. Even the slower numbers fit perfectly between the more energetic and up beat numbers. I really have the urge to hear what’s next until there isn’t anymore, and the repeat icon is my only friend. 
Enough talk, let’s do it! Let’s drill down on the music, which is the real star of the show. I want to start this portion of the review with what I consider to be the most stunning song on the album. That’s like trying to decide which is better, shrimp or lobster. A rhetorical question, indeed. Dream Dreamer (Track 6) is one of the most striking songs I have heard recently. It really did stop me in my tracks. The song is sung in a very high octave, true falsetto. That coupled with the very beautiful acoustic guitar fills and the strategic use of feedback make this song a big winner. 
Maybe Aaron has seances to channel the creative spirit of John Lennon. One listen to The Rest Is Yet To Come (Track 3) and you will see that my theory is at least plausible. The craftsmanship on this song is second to none. Mr. Tasjan has an incredible ear for detail and no stone is left unturned and no “I” is un-dotted and no “T” is uncrossed. Every single detail has been accounted for and addressed. This number starts off with a pretty heavy electric guitar lead that is tempered nicely with the piano fills that really take the edge off of the heavy. I am going to say brilliant and then move on. Brilliant!
If feedback is your thing, as it is mine, you will absolutely be smitten with Heart Slows Down (Track 4). The intro to Heart Slows Down is chock full of gorgeous feedback that is used properly to create a wonderful sonic experience. The lyrics on this ditty are incredibly thought provoking. I don’t know which came first, the words or lyrics, but they fit together beautifully like a hand in that perfectly broken in baseball mitt. On this track, Aaron is able to feed into the creative energy of the Travelling Wilburys and create a song that all of the Willburys would praise. 
If one album tempted me to write about every song, it was this one. But, I understand that too much of a good thing isn’t really good at all. Even water in high doses can be toxic. I want you all to listen and experience the magic for yourselves. Consider this review as a tool for exploration. Now go listen and start your own band!
Listen to Karma For Cheap
Buy Karma For Cheap

 

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