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Live Review: Tiana Khasi explores herself & her heritage by way of freeform jazz on 'MEGHALAYA'

8 April 2019 | 10:52 am | Max Lewis

Tiana Khasi has dropped her debut EP 'Meghalaya', a cohesive slice of freeform jazz & soul that explores her heritage and challenges the world around her.

Following critically acclaimed singles 'Nuketown' and 'They Call Me', Brisbane-based future soul artist TIANA KHASI has finally dropped her debut EP. Titled MEGHALAYA, it honours her Samoan and Indian heritage while exploring a forward-thinking blend of soul, jazz and pop. It's available digitally and on 12" vinyl via Soul Has No Tempo.

Named after the state of Northern India from which the Khasi people of Tiana's namesake hail from, MEGHALAYA touches on themes of self-empowerment, family and heritage. Meghalaya is one of the few remaining matriarchal societies, and this sense of proud womanhood is weaved throughout the EP's 7 tracks. With production from Sampology, the EP is minimal yet bursting with influences from Tiana Khasi's heritage, as well as her time studying contemporary jazz. On the album's themes, Tiana Khasi says, "Meghalaya is both geographic and spiritual [...] I wanted to create a body of work that honestly showed where I was at musically and personally. I felt the growing pains of being a young woman, mixed race/Australian born and studying jazz. I was neither here nor there."

Opening with the title track, MEGHALAYA oozes a late-night-jazz-basement feel, with freeform piano, an amorphous bassline and steady percussion setting the scene before merging and becoming a faded, downtempo sample over which layers of Tiana's vocals soar over. Once a staple of live shows, 'Georgia's Track' luxuriates in shimmery keys and a wall of string harmonies, all while cracking percussion and Tiana's vocals keep you grounded, telling a tale of suspicion and confrontation. One of the leading singles, 'They Call Me' presents the poppier side of the EP with hook-filled chord progressions and vocals. Before long the track switches straight back to jazz mode, with free-form breakdowns that add a layer of intensity to the otherwise laid-back vibe.

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On an EP full of bold moments, the closing track 'Good Things' sees Tiana at her most personal, her single-tracked vocals accompanied by a faraway piano and some subtle bass. It's a fitting end to an EP that is equal parts defiant and vulnerable. MEGHALAYA does everything a debut EP does, and does so brilliantly - it introduces us to everything that drives Tiana as an artist, highlights her proficiency with the Jazz genre, and presents a cohesive narrative that challenges the world around us. In that way, it's a perfect debut for Tiana Khasi, and one that sets up a bright future for for this multi-talented artist.

Photo by Daniel Grima

Words by MAX LEWIS