Tara Jane O'neil - A Ways Away
This is the fifth solo release by Rodan and June of 44 alum O'Neill, whose music straddles the line between alt-folk sionger/songwriter and foreboding drone quite well. "A Ways Away" is intimate in sound yet distant emotionally. Most of the songs are feature just O'Neill on acoustic guitar, with some occasional atmospherics, but in the end they feel cold, as if somehow abstract. Maybe it is just the fact that we are wired to expect intimacy from a singer accompanying herself on guitar.
"Dig In," and the title song have a deft confidence, almost traditional in their mythmaking. The creepy but moving "Howl" is not only her most personal revelation on the record, it is one of the most naked songs you are likely to hear. Truly shattering.
The more menacing tracks, though, shake you from that brief sense of familiarity. "Drowning," " A Vertiginous One" and the instrumental "Pearl Into Sand" create a powerful but alienated vibe, as if O'Neill is looking to hide within the sparest sound possible. One must really want to disappear if the vehicle for it is so fragile.
In all "A Way's Away offers various routes of escape and revelation, yet Tara Jane O'Neill doesn't provide many maps for where they ultimately lead. Cagey and inspired, this is a record to keep you guessing, and, often, stunned.
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