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Photos: Aaron Lee Tasjan returns to New York City with his new Nashville sound

New Yorkers know Aaron Lee Tasjan and his music well. Before the rising Americana singer-songwriter was appearing on Conan and finding his way inside Rolling Stone, the 30-year-old was a staple in the New York City music scene as a member of the Madison Square Gardeners, Alberta Cross and Semi Precious Weapons.

After moving to Tennessee and releasing an underrated EP in 2013’s Crooked River Burning, Tasjan made some adjustments to his Brooklyn rock sound for a more relaxed country feel on his next two albums. A fitting transition for a songwriter now living in the country music capital of the world in East Nashville.

He returned to his old stomping grounds on Wednesday night to play some of those country rock tunes of his for a packed Mercury Lounge in New York’s Lower East Side. This night is was all about the newest chapter of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s catalog, as he performed 12 songs off his last two albums, 2015’s In The Blazes and 2016’s Silver Tears.

The initial impression of fans seeing him for the first time may have been that of some dude in a star-covered suit singing drugged out country tunes, but his phenomenal guitar playing is still very much intact in the form of powerful solos heard throughout the set. From the first hauntingly dark and sharp notes from his Fender electric on “Ready to Die” to open the show, to the warmth of his trademark acoustic on “Lucinda’s Room” to close things out, everyone in the venue was well aware they were experiencing one of the best shows in the city on this night. His songs now fall into the more serious storytelling realm at times, but the looser style of folk rock still echoes throughout his material to keep the room feeling fun and lighthearted with songs like “Hard Life” and “Dime.”

The style of his music may have shifted a bit, but his ability to perform and play at the highest level is only getting better as his catalog and fanbase continues to grow.

Setlist:
Ready To Die
Hard Life
Dime
Made in America
Little Movies
Memphis Rain
Out Of My Mind
12 Bar Blues
E.N.S.A.A.T.
Success
The Dangerous Kind
—–
Lucinda’s Room