Tasha, In Bed With a Guitar

 Photos by Michael Salisbury

Photos by Michael Salisbury

Independent artists reveal so much about themselves on their projects that some fear their sound may get mishandled upon signing to a label. Not many artists are as open or as vulnerable in their music as Tasha and, after 2 years without releasing a project and signing with indie label Father/Daughter Records, a more seasoned Tasha is about to release Alone at Last. Her fans have waited with bated breath for her return and, backed by a label that has the utmost belief in her, she is unstoppable.

Allowing others into the creative process was difficult for Tasha. “My music is really for me first… I get really protective of my art- it’s been a learning process sharing and having a lot more hands on my work.” The apprehension is understandable since “alone” is how Tasha has worked on past projects,writing and producing the vast majority of her own music. She has always had total creative control when releasing projects and the adjustment was difficult, but Father / Daughter has proven to be a label where an artist with incredible talent like Tasha can be guided to complete an honest project she fully believes represents her sound. “I feel like they’re really my friends, I feel like I have 100% artist control over everything that I make, it feels like the right way to put out my first project.”

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Tasha would be the second artist from Chicago to sign to Father/Daughter in the past year along with label mate Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Both artists have vastly different sounds compared to the label’s other signees. Nnamdi’s 2017 release DROOL was the labels first hip-hop release, and Tasha’s album defies genre labels outside the label’s traditionally indie-rock sound. Tasha’s sentiment is that, in the Chicago music scene, audiences are quick to place a label on an artist to categorize them. No one wants to be mislabeled -  “People write about me as a soul singer, I’m not a soul singer, I just happen to be a Black woman who sings.” While Tasha never denies that her music is 100% influenced by soul, jazz and hip hop, the idea of adhering to genres is off-putting to the songwriter, “This is not an r&b album, this is not a soul album this is an indie record.” Alone at Last is unique to the label and provides a sound vastly different from the label’s other artists, as the project showcases all the ways Tasha creates.

People write about me as a soul singer, I’m not a soul singer, I just happen to be a Black woman who sings.

Alone shows off Tasha’s maturity as an artist, demonstrating the time she has taken to hone her skills,“[I have] a deeper relationship with my guitar ... and feeling brave enough to call myself a guitar player.” Tasha’s guitar was essential to laying the foundation of each track on the album, providing a soft place for auditory sense to rest as listeners float through the songwriter's melodies. The track, “New Place”, with its low -register guitar and bass chord and ethereal background vocals, create a sweet hypnotic sound. Conversely, the bright hopeful chords of “Something About This Girl” uplift and inspire and take listeners on a journey to self love.

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Opening with a spoken word piece titled, Take Care, Tasha emphasizes the importance of self care in every facet of life including mental, and personal. The poem, urging the listener to “Take care of your little body”, sets the tone for what follows on Alone at Last and  what follows, provides insight to Tasha’s innermost mental meanderings, “[The album is] about myself, it’s about the things I learned, when I’m alone, and it’s about the things that happen when I’m in bed.” Each song a devotional for listeners to meditate upon for their own lone mattress musings. “It’s kind of scary at first, you get so attached to [a song] …. Once it’s out in the world, it's not really yours anymore, now it means something different to all of these other people who experience it.” People will experience how personal and revealing Tasha as grown to be, “It’s about being honest about my vulnerabilities…” elaborating on the song, “Alright”, “I think that’s a brave thing to be able to admit that you just want people to tell you you’re doing a good job.”

“The sentiment behind a lot of my work lately has been about my bed and all the time spent there resting…” How appropriate, then, is the addition of the self-care theme song ‘Lullaby’? A literal lullaby to Black girls everywhere, the song is a sleepy, peaceful hug, granting Black girls permission to take a rest from the weight of the world they carry. “It’s okay/ You can keep your magic to yourself/ keep it tucked away/ they’ll have to find another wonder for today/ you don’t always have to be the one to save the world”. “Lullaby” is a comforting song that quietly demands the listener to focus on mental/self care.  “That’s the feeling I think I’m going into this with: Songs like ‘Lullaby” or ‘Winter Song’, ...there’s this very important idea of learning how to love yourself, not everyone knows how to do that, ... to be gentle with themselves.”  

As anticipation for the late October release grows, so does Tasha’s desire to share her music with a larger audience.“It feels like a much more accurate representation of where I am as an artist right now...this really feels like me, this really feels like my chance to really open up and for my audience to open up to me.”