Local Current Blog

Thomas Abban signs to RCA Records, prepares for national release of his debut album

Thomas Abban (Photo by Nate Ryan / MPR)

Thomas Abban, the beguiling guitar prodigy and boundary pushing songwriter who has been turning heads in the Twin Cities for the past year, has been signed to the iconic and nearly century-old RCA Records. The label announced the signing today with the national release of two of Abban’s songs, “Death Song” and “Sinner,” on all streaming services.

The two songs originally appeared on Abban’s debut album, A Sheik’s Legacy, which was released on the Minneapolis label  Deck Night last fall. Since that release, Abban has graced the cover of both City Pages (where he placed first in its most recent best-new-bands poll Picked to Click) and Minnesota Monthly, who declared him the future of Minnesota music. He was also one of the most anticipated acts on the bill of this year’s First Avenue Best New Bands showcase.

He was also one of the most-requested artists on the Current’s Local Show last year, and our audience’s excitement about the mesmerizing live performances he was delivering around town — coupled with my personal curiosity about his rhythmically complex, shape-shifting music — led to him recording a captivating session in our studios last October.

Just as buzz began to build locally around Abban, all of his music was pulled from the internet, leading to speculation that a major label signing was imminent.

The resources of a major label are already audible on the radio remix of “Sinner.” Abban’s voice sounds more present and central in the mix, and the arrangement more minimalist and dynamic; the fresh take gives the listener more space to enjoy the pure beauty of Abban’s lyricism and guitar playing before the song builds to include orchestral flourishes.

As part of the RCA deal, Abban will see a national release of A Sheik’s Legacy this fall. He’s now labelmates with high-profile rock acts like Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews, inventive R&B artists like D’Angelo, SZA, and Childish Gambino, and buzzy newcomers like JAIN. Remarkably, he’s also the second act with Minnesota ties to be signed to RCA this summer; the pop duo Flora Cash, which is comprised of Minneapolis native Cole Randall and his Swedish wife, Shpresa Lleshaj, have already garnered millions of plays on Spotify with their new RCA-released single, “You’re Somebody Else.”

Reached by email today, the typically stoic Abban said, “I am just focused on creating and not much else right now. Hopefully my recent partnerships will allow me to create and output on a higher level which will allow me to explore new ideas and share them with more people.” He clarified that “Sinner” is the only song that has been remixed for radio; the remainder of A Sheik’s Legacy will be released as it was originally recorded.