It’s 2018. From more than one perspective the world can appear a little bit fucked. Political, financial, racial, and gender imbalances swarm around our news feeds. A response of many is to add voice to debate, counter debate, and demonstration. Protests make progress in some areas, and have little effect in others; sometimes it can all feel futile. On her debut album, available on Father/Daugher Records, Tasha offers an alternative to raging against the machine. Alone at Last is a sequence of meditative, soulful songs that balance personal reflection with political reason.
From the outset, a spoken word track ‘Take Care’ Tasha calmly states “We believers in softness here, believe in imagination, the color pink, believe in ‘fuck the police’ poetry, believe in our hearts as heaven. I believe in bath time. I believe in bubbles on my nose, and warm warm water. I believe in bed. I love my bed, but sometimes I’m afraid that if I die people will be too tired to remember my name, so I take care of my little body. You, take care of your little body. Take care”
It’s the proportional representation of things that Tasha measures so well through the album. Before working on this album the songwriter worked with Chicago’s Black Youth Project 100, a racial justice organization. Her balance between the sociological truths, and the personal perspective, which requires self-love and self-care, brings a wisdom that many artists wait too long to achieve.
Every track in the sequence brings weight of awareness; the first-person witness account of unpleasantness. Lyrically, we are buffeted by words that express struggle. These are the issues facing too many young people around the world. However, at every turn Tasha pours light, and breezes in with an intimacy to performance, vocal delivery, and production. There’s recognition of bullshit. Then there’s an offer of hope, and the kind of gentle energy that’s required to continue forward momentum.
These songs have the air of reflection. They wash in like a balm, they offer balance amid the chaos. Tasha plays the guitar in a way that sounds like the instrument offers sanctuary. The level of intimacy expressed here is courageous. The strength of performance is in the tenderness, the strength of production values is in the space that’s afforded to simply let Tasha do her thing at it’s most elemental. Sometimes a little jazz riff cascades, and your breath stops.
Alone at Last is an album that achieves a pause in process; it gently disrupts conventional thinking. The state of things is articulated with lyrics that address assumptions, and then dismantles them with compassion.
Closing tracks ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Winter Song IV’ are hard to move beyond. Both songs articulate the impermanence of everything. Even the ‘fix’ of things, at the most meaningful, can only be considered a brief respite. We patch ourselves up, and then return to the battle of the everyday. In ‘Lullaby’ there’s empathy for anyone brave enough to try and save the world. In ‘Winter Song IV’ that empathy continues, but it also celebrates the connection with others, and the affection that interpersonal connections allow. Perhaps the one thread that brings continuity here is the constant, undiminished value of love.
It’s hard to remember a debut album that has been so densely populated with forward-facing reason, and genuine reflection. This album is not dense with showiness, or an urgency to prove worth. Alone At Last is self-possessed in the best possible way, it does not crave confirmation or concern itself with the typical industry trappings. Tasha has established herself as an authentic voice; through an old fashioned work ethic, and a modern sensibility for harmony she’s achieved something quite magnificent.
HURRY – BUY – TASHA MUSIC