In an age where there is a veritable deluge of folk artists trying to make a name for themselves, Tai Shan is one that deserves a closer look. On August 13th, I had the opportunity to hear her perform at the local Moscow, Idaho farmer’s market, and I was impressed enough to buy both the CD and EP she had available for purchase.
I have no desire to compare her directly to popular artists, understanding that that can be a frustrating circumstance for new artists. Who wants to be placed into a categorical box with no breathing room? But in reality, it still will take me a number of comparisons to describe her style.
The first thing I thought of when I began listening to her was a mixture between the early guitar melody music of KT Tunstall and the soft lyrical touch of Colbie Caillat. But the more I listened, the more I was intrigued at Tai’s ability to transcend those boundaries. Her music definitely makes the majority of its foundation upon folk guitar melodies with a hint of soft country influence. And many of the songs center on the idea of relaxing in the nature of things.
One of my favorite songs, “Crickets in the Dark”, bids the listener to reminisce upon those bright summer afternoons and warm evenings spent by a country river, listening to the sounds of descending night with ease.
But other songs are much more similar to the deep and mysterious stylings of jazz ballads, such as “Can’t Find the Man I Knew” (incorporating a bongo-like drum rhythm) and “Flicker Like a Flame” (where Tai’s melody reminds the listener of “Sassy” Sarah Vaughan). Lastly, she reminds me of is the very quick and soulful lyricist, Tracy Chapman. This is particularly evident in Tai’s recent EP, entitled “Reflections.”
If you want an interesting eclectic musical experience, I would recommend checking out Tai Shan’s work. Which you can do at her website: www.taishanmusic.com