Home Read Albums Of The Week: Aaron Lee Tasjan | Stellar Evolution

Albums Of The Week: Aaron Lee Tasjan | Stellar Evolution

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Nashville’s favorite shapeshifting singularity Aaron Lee Tasjan is back with his landmark fifth studio album Stellar Evolution, a celestial collection of sonically expansive anthems connecting the faraway universes of slacker indie rock, hyper-pop and new wave.

Produced by Tasjan and Gregory Lattimer, the album showcases an innovative array of shimmering synths, club-ready drums and angular guitar, and is his most realized sonic vision to date. Tasjan has cultivated a storied and outstanding career already, but Stellar Evolution is what the title says: A culmination of his fluid artistic expression and diverse accomplishments, while clearly heading in a brand-new and innovative musical direction. Lead single Horror Of It All instantly proves this point. The track is a sonic shift for Tasjan, genre-bending across synthwave, hyper-pop, drum and bass, and glam rock with visceral lyrics which reflect on the joy, confusions and humiliations of the queer adolescent experience.

“When I think of what scares me the most about ‘being myself,’ is that I’ll get rejected for it,” he says. “This song examines the concepts of both rejection and self-acceptance through metaphors of childhood playground heartbreak and the dramatic nature of the teenage experience. The story is being told through the eyes of a young queer person. I wanted to use experiences from childhood in the song because I feel like those heartaches are the ones that are truly everlasting. In life, we have to deal with and learn from the heartbreaks of our youth. Those lessons stay with us because the pain of the experience can be processed but the memory of it happening always remains.”

With his trademark sardonic lyrical wit, Tasjan shares poignant self observations and his personal reflections, in part inspired by the dark times the queer community has experienced in the South. Written in the context of bathroom and drag bans, which were enacted in Tennessee, while right-wing rhetoric around LGBTQI+ people became uglier and uglier. Tasjan knew this album needed to reflect both his personal experience and offer a safe space for the vibrant queer community that has become home to him.

“The record became a sort of rallying cry for being who you are in a time when people literally wanna try to make it illegal to do that,” says Tasjan, “ I felt like it was really important to let people know that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this fight together and that we see each other, and that we’re gonna do what this community always does, which is come together and have each other’s backs.”

Tasjan’s songs are sonic and personal evolutions. For Tasjan they track his sonic shifts and share personal moments of overcoming challenges and embracing change. For the world, they are universal in appeal and inclusive in intention. Hyper pop-adjacent raver Alien Space Queen celebrates living outside the gender binary and Tasjan’s bisexuality and queer identity. Slacker rock anthem The Drugs Did Me is an autobiographical account of Tasjan’s journey to sobriety. Tasjan gets funky on his ode to Talking Heads and Scary Monsters-era David Bowie, Pants, a life-affirming call for authentic and righteous self-expression. He protests on I Love America Better Than You, and loves so much he lets it go on the powerful ballad Dylan Shades. Stellar Evolution is a collection of songs that celebrate love, scathe and protest, claim space and shine bright.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, band leader, activist, and Grammy nominee Tasjan has been and continues to be all of these things. Over his past decade plus of writing, recording, producing, his four excellent and critically acclaimed solo albums helped him land award nominations. He’s toured the world over as the guitarist in The New York Dolls and later on his own, an acclaimed singer-songwriter opening for Sheryl Crow, Greta Van Fleet, Cheap Trick and Marcus King, alongside festival appearances. He co-founded and co-wrote all of the material for the band Semi Precious Weapons. In 2021 he was nominated for a Grammy for his writing on Yola’s Diamond Studded Shoes and most recently, Tasjan produced Mya Byrne‘s album Rhinestone Tomboy. His activism has seen him curate benefit shows such as The Aaron Lee Tasjam and curate All Newport’s Eve, the Newport Folk Festival kickoff concert event.

As he set out to work on Stellar Evolution, Tasjan knew better than ever what was important to him to express and the message he wanted to share — this was an album about personal evolution and societal revolution. “I realized that part of being an artist means building a community,” says Tasjan, “What do you want that community to look like? Who do you want to be a part of that community? As an artist, it’s your job to curate that, and to be a reflection of the change you wanna see in the world. I gradually got braver to share more and more of myself through each record, and the music just kinda had to follow suit.”