Aaron Lee Tasjan Gets Surreal In 'My Life Is Over (All Over Again)': Video Premiere

Curtis Wayne Millard

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Aaron Lee Tasjan was perfectly happy (as were critics and fans) with Karma For Cheap when he put it out in 2018. But he still heard its tracks in other ways, which is why he's coming with Karma For Cheap: Reincarnated (Aug. 30) -- whose action-packed and surrealistic video for "My Life Is Over (All Over Again)," its sole new track, is premiering exclusively below.

The first Karma For Cheap, the Nashville singer-songwriter tells Billboard, was "the end result of how the guys I was playing with in my touring band at the time had developed those songs live. We took a lot of those songs out on the road before we recorded them for that album. It suddenly dawned on me that every single one of those songs had started with me in my bedroom on my acoustic guitar. I just thought it would be interesting to show people where the songs really came from."

The new Reincarnated, coming out just a day shy of the original's one-year anniversary, is indeed stripped down from its fully fleshed out predecessor. "The acoustic guitar was no longer the lead voice (on Karma), which had always been the case on my records previously," Tasjan acknowledges. Recorded in Nashville with producer and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Damphier, Reincarnated's arrangements have more space and atmosphere, especially for Tasjan's vocal performances. "It's kind of like inviting people to sort of watch me sing to myself," Tasjan explains, "and rediscover in a very personal way the power of music. Music is such a powerful thing because it's one of the times people will really let their guard down and open themselves up to an experience."

Tasjan wrote the elegiac, piano-led "My Whole Life" for the original Karma For Cheap but "never quite got the right version down." It resurfaced as he and Damphier were working on Reincarnated, and the latter encouraged Tasjan to see if it would work in a quieter sonic setting. "I wanted to do something new for people to come back to," Tasjan notes. "I didn't want to just put out the same track list again. I knew right away I was singing something that was very personal, and it seems like in a lot of ways our culture has shifted, particularly in the past few years, to a place where people are interested in hearing somebody's original experience again. It felt like the right time to put out a song like this."

Calling "My Whole Life" "a song about perspective," Tasjan says he and director Michael Kessler worked to create a series of surreal images to create a Groundhog's Day-style scenario of recurring, though slightly different, events -- and also show off a seriously large and flamboyant shoe collection that Tasjan admits almost all belongs to him.

"It was a little bit of a task," Tasjan says of the clip. "A little bit of the message of that song is we come to those times where we just feel this is kind of...the end, y'know? Surely it must be the end, and about those moments that are creating space for new beginnings and for other interesting things to happen. We found ourselves getting stuck when we tried to get too specific in (the video), so having these more meta, very surreal visual adaptations of what that phrase could mean just felt like a better fit. The multiple styles of visually representing that just felt like a good way to get that feeling across."

Tasjan will celebrate Reincarnated's release with an Aug. 31 show in Nashville, then set out on a six-week solo tour on which he'll be playing multiple instruments. Tasjan has also started his next recording project, with 16 songs recorded and five that he considers finished, and he's already seeing the impact of the more intimate direction he took with Reincarnated.

"It's much more of a personal record than anything I’ve made before," Tasjan says of the new material. "My songs tend to be observational, but this one feels pretty direct in many ways. There's a real, true, honest part of myself in every song I've finished so far. And it's been the return to a real simplicity of production, acoustic (guitar), drums, bass and piano. It's a very simple record, but I think there's some new complexities, musically, that I’m going for. It's just feeling really right to let those things speak without too much overhanging in terms of production."

Tour dates: 
August 31st - Nashville, TN Live On The Green (Karma For Cheap: Reincarnated Release Show) 
September 6th - Sisters, OR Sisters Folk Festival 
September 12th - Nashville, TN Americanafest 
September 14th - St. Petersburg, FL  The Coliseum (WMNF’s 40th Birthday Party)
September 15th - St. Augustine, FL Sing Out Loud Fest w/ Saint Paul & The Broken Bones
September 27th - Johnson City, TN The Down Home
September 28th - Roseland, VA Devils Backbone Hoopla 
October 8th - Seattle, WA Columbia City Theater 
October 9th - Portland, OR The Old Church 
October 11th - Novato, CA Hopmonk Tavern 
October 12th - San Francisco, CA Cafe Du Nord 
October 13th - Felton, CA Felton Music Hall 
October 15th - Los Angeles, CA Bootleg Theater 
October 17th - Austin, TX Cactus Cafe 
October 18th - Houston, TX Mucky Duck 
October 19th - Dallas, TX Wild Detectives 
October 20th - Little Rock, AR White Water Tavern 
November 29th - Louisville, KY Headliners w/ Todd Snider 
November 30th - Lexington, KY Manchester Music Hall w/ Todd Snider