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Tasha - Alone at Last Music Album Reviews

On her quietly confident debut, this soulful Chicago singer-songwriter offers portraits of intimacy and songs about the need for self-love.

Tasha makes wondrous, gentle soul that advocates for self-care. But the music of the Chicago singer-songwriter is radically different from Dove beauty campaigns or expensive Goop product guides, where ideas of empowerment are preached with no mention of the struggle it takes to get there or the fact that real self-care is more than a marketing ploy. Instead, on her incisive seven-song debut, Alone at Last, she reimagines the world as loving and safe while exploring the hurt and anguish inherent in navigating our society, especially as a queer black woman. She positions self-care as a remedy to oppression, not as a crass money-making tool.

Tasha is a poet, activist, and musician who has worked with organizations like Black Youth Project 100, a nationwide group built in part on “political education using a Black queer feminist lens.” Her 2016 EP, Divine Love, focused on self-love and political activism, inspired in part by her work with the Black Youth Project. For Alone at Last, she picks up near where she left off: “Sometimes I’m afraid that if I die/Everyone will be too tired to remember my name,” she says during the still, spoken-word opener “Take Care.” She contrasts images of unknotted curls, warm water, and bubbles on her nose with jarring lines about the inevitability of pain and loss. For her, self-care means preparing to meet injustices in order to honor and protect those injured by them. That starts with the individual. “When the next deaths come, because they will,” she speaks, “we will have vigor enough to remember their names.”

This acknowledgement of the dark realities of a racist, sexist, homophobic world—and Tasha’s celebration of joy in spite of it—is Alone at Last’s unifying idea. On “Kind of Love,” a song about the thrill of falling for someone, Tasha sees the act itself as political, a way to find “stillness in a world on fire and bodies without hurt.” She imagines radiant utopias where black people can exist free of harm during “New Place,” singing, “Hurry, before they see that we’re leaving/Don’t worry, haven’t you noticed you haven’t been breathing?” And on the stunning “Lullaby,” Tasha reassures black girls that she understands too well “how much it hurts/To always prove your worth.” She urges them to “keep your magic to yourself.”

During “New Place” and “Lullaby,” Tasha’s layered vocals create an angelic cushion for her words; her simple, pick-and-strum guitar lines foster a sense of intimacy. Tasha’s voice and her deliberate words are foregrounded above these choral orchestrations and meandering beats. Like amber, her voice is mellow and luminous, adding to the music’s feeling of comfort in the face of all this anxiety. The subtly psychedelic instrumentals and warped vocals during “Something About This Girl” alter the pace and tone, adding depth and texture. Still, there is more room for variation and experimentation here, other ways to animate these conflicting feelings. In this sense, Alone at Last feels like the debut it is. But with lines as beautiful on the page as they are on the track, like “What’s the word for falling into someone else’s sigh,” it is exciting enough to imagine the shapes Tasha’s songs may soon take.

These are “bed songs,” Tasha has said, sweet and tender tunes to which you could drift asleep. Beds—in particular, her bed—show up numerous times, representing dreaminess and safety, a holy place where Tasha is “alone at last with space to cry.” But this is not mere escapism, songs about forgetting the world outside. Tasha reminds the listener again and again why rest is necessary, how the fight for equality or even existence requires tremendous energy and care.

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