Over the past few years, Tash Sultana has been building up a lot oh hype and a dedicated following that’s captivated by their intimate singing, songwriting, and guitar playing. On their sophomore album, “Terra Firma”, Tash manages to continue that intimacy while expanding their sound much further than their debut.
Last year, the multi-instrumentalist announced online that they were experiencing burnout from extensive touring. This has not only resulted in much of the material on “Terra Firma” (Latin for “Solid Ground”) revolving around their mental, but the use of session players to take some of the load off of Sultana. I actually think the irony of making an album during isolation, where most musicians are more minimal and stripped back than ever, to make their sound even bigger and layered is a great choice for Tash, as they use the extra layers of synths, brass, keyboards, and live drums to pull themselves out of the role of a bedroom and that of a leader of a live band. This has also made Tash grow out of their typical sound of psychedelic soul and start incorporating elements of soul-pop and R&B. Despite these bigger changes to their sound, however, Tash is still able to capture the intimacy and vulnerability that made their earlier work so special, captivating the listener as they bare their soul to what feels like an audience of just you.
While this record does have a lot to love about it, I can’t help but feel like the album’s pacing is hurt by the larger amounts of longer songs. While many of these songs are gorgeous to listen to, I think Tash probably could have cut some of these tracks from the final release, because as it stands the album runs out of steam towards its last leg. It definitely feels like we’re getting the director’s cut of an album that could have used a little editing for time. I also think that some the mixes could have been redone, as they feel a little muddy and could have been tweaked to give the music a quality that has more clarity and feels grand.
Overall, I think Tash Sultana has taken the right step for their artistic evolution, as there have been many before them with a similar story that quickly lost their magic. Even as enjoyable as their music has been, “Terra Firma” proves that there is still a bunch of potential that Tash is working towards and they are willing to move into different directions with their artistry while still keeping the soul that fans love them for.