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Tara Jane ONeil | In the Sun Lines (Touch & Go)
The music of Tara Jane ONeil's second record under her own name, outside the confines of Rodan, Retsin and The Sonora Pine, could conceivably be tagged as 'difficult', or perhaps the more shyly pejorative 'idiosyncratic'. Mostly steering clear of any craven verse-chorus-verse payback, there are moments when the assorted instruments are plinking and plucking away - seemingly at odds with, or in ignorance of, what the other players are up to - when it wouldn't be completely out of order for a comparison to some more immediately palatable, folk-minded take on free jazz to pop fleetingly into your head. The loose confederation of instruments, spare and sometimes slack, but at the same time entirely fitting, have a naivety (which is not to imply cuteness or an accented inability, but rather a lack of preciousness, a lack of conceit) that conspires with ONeil's sweet, plaintive vocals. It's a modal aggregate that, like the specific lyrical concerns of any one song, retains something intangible once your ear is averted. Building on last year's 'Peregrine', 'In the Sun Lines' is an unaffected patchwork whose components could easily have made it many things: deliberately coy or knowing or studious or simply cluttered and confusing. Finally though - beyond the mud of the handful of comparisons which doesn't stick for too long - it isn't anything other than itself: instinctive and enigmatic, genuinely transcending the sum of its parts on its way to becoming a record that no one would benefit from ignoring.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002