REVIEW: Tash Hagz — The Ballad of Sanaleigh (LP)
Tash Hagz has been picking up a lot of hype since his string of acclaimed releases in 2020, and in his new single “The Ballad of Sanaleigh,” he extends his artistic whims to a deeper level of complexity than even some of his bigger supporters were expecting. I’ve been following this player’s development for the last year, and although it’s true that he isn’t the only credible singer/songwriter experimenting with the limits of psychedelia and concept rock right now, he’s among the very few to be taking the normally over the top aesthetics of both genres in a more efficient, contemporary direction with his work.
These melodies are among the more textured I’ve listened to in 2021, but their brutishness doesn’t come off as the product of an amateurish, pseudo-DIY master mix at all. Instead, the unfiltered feel of the string parts contributes something particularly emotional and vulnerable to the narrative that I can’t imagine words accounting for on their own, and in the bigger picture, I think it’s details like this that are the reason why “The Ballad of Sanaleigh” sounds as evolved as it does comparative to the last couple of songs this artist has released.
The lyrics aren’t pushed together in high-strung verses here but allowed to come to us in an unforced manner, exuding a lot of angst that would otherwise come in conflict with the optimistic tone of the instrumentation (and even the springiness of the beat). Flow is everything in a concept piece, and without having to be particularly virtuosic with the assembly of the hook in “The Ballad of Sanaleigh,” Tash Hagz is nonetheless able to give us something really elegant and constructed to last through time in this song. You don’t have to be ridiculously indulgent to sound bold, and this is a recording that proves it.
This artist’s identity essentially lives and dies by the lumbering sway of the rhythm in this single, and I would argue that had “The Ballad of Sanaleigh” not had as heavy a percussive thrust as it does, the greater sentiments of the lyrics might have gotten lost in translation. Tash Hagz isn’t someone who likes leaving things up to chance, and if this weren’t the case I highly doubt he would be putting as much love as he does into even the minutest of intricacies with a song like this one.
A fantastic addition to his catalog and a pretty terrific listen for anyone who has a taste for the stonier side of rock n’ roll nowadays, you can’t beat the authenticity of a single like “The Ballad of Sanaleigh” nor that of the man responsible for its arrival this October. Tash Hagz might be stealing a lot of attention away from his peers at the moment, but don’t think he hasn’t earned what he’s getting right now — judging from the ambitiousness of “The Ballad of Sanaleigh,” I think we’re only going to hear more experimental content moving forward, which is likely to make a lot of critics (myself included) exceptionally happy.