Jessica Tanner wrote and developed the nine songs on her debut album over multiple years – but with their soft melancholy, it’s fitting for them to release during this period of extended isolation. Tanner, who goes as Asphalt Astronaut on her solo folk release Antares, drew inspiration from heartbreak, astronomy and Fourth Avenue.
Originally from Tucson, Tanner moved to Phoenix when she was young, but returned here to attend the University of Arizona. The songs on Antares
serve as a kind of timeline for Tanner over the past few years: changing her major, moving through relationships, speculating on perspectives. And with an extended quarantine, she suddenly had the time to put all the pieces together.
Entirely self-written, recorded and produced, Antares
is a lonesome album, but it would be a disservice to simply call it depressing. With a soulful voice and simple instrumentation, Tanner does share her personal woes, but jumps between characters and perspectives in the stories she sings. While most of the songs come off as listless, the jumps between acoustic guitar- and piano-driven tracks add color—or perhaps another shade of gray.
Although the album wasn’t released under her own name, Tanner leaves little between herself and the listener.
“I try to be a pretty open person,” Tanner said. “I know a lot of artists will come up with a persona, but that didn’t feel fitting. It’s very autobiographical, so it would have felt disingenuous to introduce myself as someone other than who I am.”
The songs have never been performed live. In fact, Tanner says she only recently felt comfortable singing in front of friends and family. She admits it might come as a surprise to many of her friends that she’s recorded an album at all. But her dark, mellow voice hints at experience—or at the very least comfort—with her singing and storytelling abilities. Antares
’ rawness does result in some production hiccups, but more than anything else they manage to add to the album’s style.
“On one hand, I almost didn’t put anything else because I was thinking: ‘How is this different than a million other people who are doing an acoustic recording?’” Tanner said. “But this is what I needed to do.”