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Aaron Lee Tasjan

Silver Tears – 2016 (New West Records)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Aaron Lee Tasjan

Guitarist/vocalist Aaron Lee Tasjan has the kind of musical resume that seems like an implausible invention from the mind of an unhinged Hollywood screenwriter. From band membership in Semi Precious Weapons and the Madison Square Gardeners to sideman stints with Peter Yarrow, Drivin' N' Cryin', Sean Lennon and the New York Dolls to his own wildly diverse solo career, Tasjan has effectively defined the word eclectic.

Over the past decade, Tasjan has released a pair of excellent full lengths and a quintet of equally distinct EPs, but his third full album, "Silver Tears," is the shiniest jewel in his already well-bedazzled alt.-country crown. It's not impossibly difficult to draw a straight line from Tasjan to towering pop music legends like Harry Nilsson and John Lennon, whose structural DNA peeks through on opening tracks "Hard Life" and "Little Movies," while the aching "Memphis Rain," the galloping "Dime" and the acoustic gospel blues wail of "Ready to Die" wouldn't sound out of place in the setlists of Rodney Crowell or Marty Stuart. Elsewhere, "Till the Town Goes Dark" shivers with a Tom Petty-meets-Roy Orbison vibe, the spoken word/sung country lope of "12 Bar Blues" could be the work of some future Hank Williams IV, and the gentle lilting twang of "Where the Road Begins and Ends" closes the album with hopeful resolve.

If Tasjan has a mission statement, it might well be found in the chorus to "Success," in which ALT unironically notes, "Success ain't about being better than everyone else, it's about being better than yourself." Based on the wide-ranging results of the briliantly engaging and compelling "Silver Tears," Tasjan has succeeded on his own terms and by just about any musical yardstick known to man.