Tahj: Sol Dream

His fans will appreciate this one.

New Albums
This time around he’s more upbeat and intimate, sharing his danceable songs.

Missoula hip-hop/rap purveyor and social worker Tahj Bo Kjelland has a new album of originals in which he departs somewhat from his emphasis on the social-awareness themes of the earlier Sweatshop Sneakers. He still uses his medium to speak out against oppression, but this time around he’s more upbeat and intimate, sharing his danceable songs.

The educator and poetry-slam host at the Montana Book Festival has a cast of musicians contributing to the effort. Oodles of horns played by Nathan Crawford, Tanner Fruit, Kyle Gillette and Barbara Shinave, and percussion by Brandon Zimmer, are on the docket. Ryan Maynes and Max Allyn (Tahj’s brother) add keyboards, and Kjelland plays bass. Maynes and Allyn are responsible for the layered production as well, along with Jason Hicks.

Back-up vocalists are Margi Cates, Andrea Harsell, Emily Kodama (Kjelland’s bandmate in the blues band Mudslide Charley), Cami Coté, Joan Zen, Tanna Dahl, and Deegz.

Out of the chute, “Carnival” has a snappy reggae-fied ambience, with a cool hook: … ”get up, come on down, feel the energy of this sound.” Swingin’ horns and rhythmic vocals propel “Food for the Sol,” enhanced by dance-hall piano.

“The Garden” features Kayla Hutchins’s accomplished voice bending in the breeze on her original melody; it’s got a jazzy, exotic feel, smooth and gauzy. Tahj emotes, “We’re going back to the garden, to where it all started … disconnected from the garden, makin’ my way back, baby steps to where we started …”

“Higher” has a verse written by Rob Leland, and “Sol Shine” culminates the album with a universal message. “Be the change you wish to see … connect to the universe above … let your soul shine,” Tahj tells us. He plays a lovely riff on flute as well. His fans will appreciate this one.

Visit www.facebook.com/tahj.kjelland.

– Mariss McTucker