Where Shine New Lights, the seventh solo album from veteran indie songsmith and otherworldly mystic Tara Jane O'Neil, begins with "Welcome," a short cluster of multi-tracked vocals that drone on a note or two before spilling into "Wordless in the Woods," the equally ethereal but more traditionally arranged song that follows. This brief, glowing meditation sets the tone for an album of O'Neil's airy, barely cogent pop songwriting at its very best. Trying to discern lyrics, hold onto threads of repeating themes, or even find one's footing in the indie ambient forest of Where Shine New Lights are all afterthoughts, with the main power of the album being its enveloping qualities, with songs that convey vivid emotional resonance even at their most obscured or murky. Tracks like "Over. Round, in a Room. Found." and "The Signal, Wind" are great examples of this, with their muted instrumentation gelling into a singular mass of dark sounds, lyrics floating but intangible, and elements like bells, synthesizers, and other unknown sounds rising and receding in waves. Other songs come up for air and latch onto more easily recognized song structures. "Elemental Finding" is a dark and wandering dirge, characteristic of O'Neil's earlier indie folk weirdness, while "This Morning Glory" is almost unnervingly perky in the context of the rest of the shadowy and subaquatic vibes of the album. While the long stretches of wordless wandering and hazy dream pop instrumentals make this a cloudier affair than most of O'Neil's earlier catalog, the pacing and set list are so well conceived that Where Shine New Lights never bores or feels like a distraction, even at its most still. Instead, the album is like a gentle, sometimes terrifying solitary journey, a walk through foggy terrain with no absolute destination in mind, but one that takes the listener to places of new questions and different possibilities every time.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas