Tianna Esperanza isn’t messing around. Right from the first song (the title track) on her debut album Terror, she offers this:
Sometimes, when I’m walking
and a man looks at me,
I think of all the ways
I could make him bleed.
Whoa, OK. It’s a sentiment that some of us may have felt to some degree now and again – but what an opener. And maybe what’s most unsettling about this song is that, musically, it feels easygoing and in no way aggressive.
“When I was 8 years old,” Esperanza told NPR’s Morning Edition, “my brother passed away – and when I was 13, and many times in my life, I’ve experienced ranges of sexual assault and abuse. I’m bringing these stories out slowly, in my own comfort … to transcend my pain and connect with others.”
No surprise, then, that the album’s opening line isn’t an anomaly. As it moves forward, that intensity grows – and branches out in new directions.
On “Buy You a New Attitude”:
I emasculate every man I meet
I try not to, but they can’t stand up to me,
It’s a killer song that puts her in the driver’s seat – and gets us itching to move right along with her. I mean, that beat is undeniable.
But again, Esperenza’s music isn’t explained or contained in just one song. In the stripped-bare “Three Straight Bitches from Hell,” for instance, the lyrics cut both ways. And they go right to the bone.
Inspiration isn’t easy to nail down, but Esperenza may just have some of this restless, no-BS energy in her blood. The song “Princess Slit and the Raincoat Prince,” for instance, nods to Esperenza’s grandmother, Paloma McLardy, who performed under the name Palmolive in pioneering punk bands the Slits and the Raincoats.
“I am so proud to have been raised around such bad-ass women like The Slits and Raincoats,” Esperanza has said. “I wanted to write a song that was an homage to my punk roots and one that celebrates queerness.”
The music on Terror is captivating. It’s complex. It’s beautiful. And hell yeah it’s fun. Esperenza is an artist unafraid to speak her mind…and equally unafraid to create a mix of sounds and styles (rock, soul, R&B, blues, folk, more) that pushes boundaries and takes us places we didn’t know we wanted to go.
“I put everything into my work and it costs a lot to do that. But I’m grateful I’m not alone in it,” Esperanza told the Boulder Weekly. “And when I see women like Valerie June” – who guests on album-closer “Lone Child” – “I’m inspired and I’m encouraged to fight for a space [in the industry].”
With Esperanza’s music, we’re entering a new world. She’s one of the most refreshing new artists of 2023 so far, and hell yeah we’re along for the ride.
The 2023 Colorado Sound Music Awards – meet this year’s winners
Soundboard Newsletter – subscribe to get music news, presale codes, other goodies every Thursday morning
Become a Colorado Sound member – join our awesome community of passionate music lovers
Instagram – follow us on Instagram for fun Stories, Reels, and posts