[sic] Magazine

Tara Jane O’Neil – Where Shine New Lights

Be it intentional or pure serendipity but the Tara Jane O’Neil of 2014 is definitely now in with the in-crowd. The way her barely-there post-folk and elemental drift coalesce on new LP Where Shine New Lights is very Liz Harris/Grouper, her high-and-lonesome folk very anything on the Reverb Worship type-label. O’Neil sings “What you love is made of wind” at one point here and in a single moment the new album makes sense. It’s truly less an album and more of a daydream, one that feels as natural and real as tracing a finger over still water, yet as intangible as trying to grasp at a light summer’s breeze. As such, wonderfully sleepy lullabies like “Elemental Finding” are like making out with the memory of a former lover and when the track is finished you’re left kinda wondering if you even heard it all.

O’Neil’s work has always been transportive but rarely has it been as cohesive. That’s not to say Where Shine New Lights is samey – far from it – but the way it flows almost imperceptibly between quite disparate material allows you to trace O’Neil’s creative process intimately. And in a set that reaches for amped-up and ambient drones as often as it does traditional song-craft, she maintains a pervasive reverie that is only truly disturbed once, the stripped-back clarity of “The Lull The Going” jarring initially before the track fades back into subliminal aural massage. As easy-going then as a Lilt commercial, Where Shine New Lights is also super polite and unless you bang up the volume you’ll miss its subtleties: wind chimes, multi-tracked harmonies, atmospheric string scrapes from the Warren Ellis school of soundtracking. There’s no chance of missing the pulsing hand-drums in “Over. Round, In A Room. Found” though.

O’Neil never goes for the grandiose – half of these tracks are sub 3 minutes. Where a younger hand may have milked the crying strings or shimmering cymbals, O’Neil basks off camera on the shore of some island paradise, her amp pick-ups buzzing away at the high-end of the mix, her seriously chilled lyrics indiscernible through the blissed-out haze. “This Morning Glory” takes this sun-dappled stoner vibe and lays it on its back to watch the clouds pass by, filling up the space between the sparse guitar work and O’Neil’s dreamy narrative with oceans of reverb, the same spaces in the mesmeric “The Signal, Lift” echoed so far out into infinity as to defy you to listen with anything but eyes half-mast and heartbeat set to hibernate.

Best tracks: “Elemental Finding” and “The Signal, Lift”

~Where Shine New Lights is out now on Kranky.~