TARA JANE O’NEIL > A Ways Away

As an artist who had managed to release something of note every year of the new millennium—whether a full-length album, an EP, or a book of paintings—Tara Jane O’Neil is not used to silence. Even so, 2008 was an uncharacteristically quiet year for the guitarist and songwriter, a period of time that was used to produce A Ways Away, her most focused and accomplished work to date.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

LABEL: K

[Rating: 3]


As an artist who had managed to release something of note every year of the new millennium-whether a full-length album, an EP, or a book of paintings-Tara Jane O’Neil is not used to silence. Even so, 2008 was an uncharacteristically quiet year for the guitarist and songwriter, a period of time that was used to produce A Ways Away, her most focused and accomplished work to date. Taking a less-is-more approach, O’Neil build songs out of careful repetition and somber drones, resulting in a dark and dreamy set of songs that hang in the air like the humidity before a thunderstorm. But O’Neil never provides the expected lightning strike, instead sustaining an album-long meditation out of hypnotic electric guitar lines, layered harmonies, and enveloping clouds of reverb. Striking in their simplicity, these songs fall somewhere between Appalachian folk ballads and experimental film scores, as O’Neil moves from the lovely mountain dulcimer melancholy of “Drowning” to the shimmering walls of guitar feedback in “The Drowning Electric.” It was worth the wait.

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