Tara Jane O'Neil was once in the magnificent Rodan but has long since been more noted for her wandering and prolific solo career. Here she teams up with a bunch of people for what she calls a 'singer-songwriter endeavour' half of which was recorded at Wilco's 'The Loft' studio. Another missive to add to a career that continues to follow an idiosyncratic path.
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Ah, to be a singer-songwriter sitting on a table in the garden next to some plants. Tara Jane O’Neil looks extremely chill there, good for her, as I feel one deserves a sabbatical after years serving in the frenetic Rodan. Truth be told, O’Neil's trajectory has been quite stunning, considering the last record I heard by her was a split interpretation of bowed gong drone with the epitome of minimalism, Eleh. And yet here, O’Neil offers a singer-songwriter record that’s lilting and twanging with all the ease afforded to you while recording at Wilco’s studio. What a journey.
It runs at a leisurely pace and with emotions sublimated into very downbeat melodies, but this record is lovely and immersive: “Blow” is a wonderfully countrified slice, while the brushed drums, wandering guitar and distant horns of “Sand” give O’Neil’s songwriting an opaque smokiness. That it was recorded at Wilco’s studio might be the reason I’m reminded of ‘Sky Blue Sky’ and its smoothed out soft rock dramas, but this record has that feel to it: it flares up on occasion, before bring brought back down with long, languishing chords twanging out like a tumbleweed -- “Kelley” sounds ominous for about three seconds, then invokes acoustic strums and a quiet band arrangement.
And it all sounds exactly the way she wants: whether clean as a whistle on the waltzy “Purple” or slightly discarded as on “Great”, where she hides behind sparkling guitar, she’s treated these songs perfectly, giving them enough atmosphere that you’ll want to immerse. Fans of nice songs -- and fans of finding shade amidst sunshine -- will like this record.
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