(3/6/5) 014: Tara Jane O'Neil - We Bright

(3/6/5) 014: Tara Jane O'Neil - We Bright

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A prolific and singular artist, some seven years have passed since the release of O'Neil's self-titled album back in 2017. Despite this, TJO has remained a relentless and enigmatic force, releasing a skewed covers album, as well as numerous collaborations, rarities and live pieces.

The quintessential artist's artist, TJO has collabed with the esteemed Marissa Anderson, worked with Jim James, Chris Cohen, Joan Shelley (among countless others), recorded at Wilco's Loft studio, and even had Maggie Nelson - of Bluets fame - write the biography for the aforementioned album.

Released last week via the ever-excellent Orindal Records, TJO's brand new album gently pushes all of that context to one side, shifting the spotlight boldly on herself for a record that has quickly developed into of 2024's strongest and most alluring bodies of work. Though still very much a group effort - The Cool Cloud of Okay LP features her partner (and dog), Alvvays' Sheridan Riley, multi-instrumentalist Walt McClements, and the inimitable Meg Duffy of Hand Habits -  what cuts through the storm is TJO's innovative, captivating vision.

where the ocean comes and goes out
look again and see this too
where we first received the arrow
there remains a joyful wound

A kind of swarming fog of experimental folk sounds, the record envelops the listener the further you walk into its world. By the time the album's fourth track, 'We Bright', arrives you'll be fully invested, taking in the skewed colourful surroundings with a wide-eyed sense of wonder.

TJO takes such care with these compositions that the comparison it brings to mind is that of Yo La Tengo's sprawling masterpiece And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out; for all of its groove and playfulness, there's such a sense of depth and space throughout the album. These songs exist in three-dimensions, not just a painting on a wall but rooms and corridors, roads disappearing into the dark of night.

Such details are beautifully present and portrayed on 'We Bright', a ghostly, meandering track that only lasts for three-minutes but seems to linger for far longer, like time lost to a dream. The result is something cryptic but also magical, a uniquely enchanting escape from the day.

The whole record is certainly worth digging into (and much like the aforementioned YLT album, it's probably best absorbed on some balmy summer night) but if you need a taster, an alluring introduction to the genius of TJO, then check out the stunning 'We Bright' right now - and enjoy the new world you find yourself in.

Listen on GFP / Bandcamp


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