Two years after the accolades of her solo debut Peregrine, former Rodan vocalist Tara Jane O'Neil returns with her wily, mysterious, unclassifiable In the Sun Lines. Not only has O'Neil recorded and engineered this album; she also provides the largest part of the musical tapestry that employs her on guitar, bass, drums, pianos, banjo, accordion, melodica, and more. She recorded everywhere: from a condo in Louisville to her Ludlow St. apartment in New York City to a cabin upstate, carrying her mixing deck with her everywhere. And while she had help from friends such as Rachel's pianist Rachel Grimes, and Noel Hawley on cello and Rhodes piano, among others, the sounds and textures of In The Sun Lines are distinctly O'Neil's. While there are some similarities to Peregrine in the mystery dimension, musically O'Neil has reinvented the wheel. Sounds and melodies crop up and float, hovering over a particular song for awhile ("All Jewels Small") before transmuting themselves into a soundscape without an end; there are others that evoke the slow, tender sambas of Tom Jobim's Sweet Bargaining; and still others that ask more questions than could ever be answered in a three or four minute pop song: ("The Wind You Came Here On"); and the American Gothic darkness created by guitars undressing themselves in the twilight ("Your Rats Are"), with Dan Littleton on vocals. If this album seems like a montage, or disjointed and unrealistic in reach for a pop record, then the listener may not doing the album justice because O'Neil's creation is seamless: always subdued, full of a tension that is both elegantly fraught with brokenness and the desire for transcendence; and one that imbues the listener with an imparted grace of acceptance and resolve. While the music here is delicate and, at times, heartbreakingly beautiful, there isn't anything remotely fragile about it. O'Neil's post-rock constructivist approach to creating songs is anything but passive. Instead her murky, shimmering, world is built a piece or a sound at a time, carefully layered, and then grafted and sewn together to find whatever it is that the song thinks it needs to express itself through her. In The Sun Lines is a glorious new chapter in the catalog of an enigma.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek