After a few years between drinks, Tash Sultana is back in 2021 with Terra Firma, the follow up to their much acclaimed and lauded album Flow State. Much like its 2018 predecessor, Terra Firma is an exploration into the soulful and trip driven escapades of Sultana’s mind and musical expertise.
With all the groove driven sounds they’ve become known for, Sultana is as slick as always, with hints of jazz and psychedelia strung out through the album’s fourteen tracks. Released on their own label (Lonely Lands Records), Sultana has moved away from self production, and brought in musical savants Matt Corby and Dann Hume. And while the influence of these secondary parties is evident, Terra Firma is pure Tash Sultana from start to finish.
Having been slow teased in the build up, Terra Firma has a wealth of delicate and genuinely great yet to be heard moments intertwined with those pre-released singles you’re already more than familiar with. With almost half of the album debuted in the lead up to the album’s full release, there aren’t too many unexpected secrets on Terra Firma. Sultana continues to deliver the goods you’ve come to expect since coming from the clouds in 2017.
The delicate and textured “Pretty Lady” is one of the key singles that sets the standard for the rest of the album. Having worked closely with Corby on “Pretty Lady”, the song fits snuggly between Flow State-era Tash Sultana and the best of Corby’s Rainbow Valley.
For an artist that developed much of their sound on an instantly recognisable diet of guitar licks and loops, Sultana embraces a broadening of their sound here. “Crop Circles” goes jazz and welcomes that full band sound that now accompanies the traditional solo artist when playing live. With its horns and jazz piano, “Crop Circles”, is an early but completely welcome highlight. Meanwhile, “Greed”, an obvious commentary on wealth distribution in society, features a couple verses of near rap delivered bars. That’s all before the chorus is sung in Sultana’s trademark slinky styling.
The album, even with its highs like “Beyond the Pine”, “Sweet & Dandy” and “Willow Tree ft. Jerome Farah”, does at times leave you feeling like you’re listening to the same song on repeat. This isn’t to say it’s a negative. If anything it proves the consistency of Sultana as an holistic artist. But, despite the across-the-board quality of Terra Firma, the lack of noticeable style change across the majority of the album does detract from the listener’s ability to enjoy the album continually from cover to cover.
Now, taking what I just said with a grain of salt, the tracks on Terra Firma that do break away in sound – like all five and half minutes of “Coma” – could go down as some of Sultana’s all time great songs. With its wandering, almost Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive” sound in the opening four minutes, before a cataclysmic crescendo, “Coma” is almost certain to become a fan favourite once live shows return.
With much of the Tash Sultana we’ve come to know and love protruding prominently throughout Terra Firma, there’s enough quality and licks of pure class to make you wonder just how far the Tash Sultana juggernaut could go.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Terra Firma, the new album from Tash Sultana, is out Friday February 19th. Pre-order the album HERE.
They will be performing two sold out shows at 170 Russell in Melbourne on February 23rd and 24th. You can also catch Sultana at WOMADelaide on March 4th. For more information head HERE. They will also be appearing at Bluesfest 2021 in April. Tickets are available HERE.