Tara Jane O'Neil

You Sound, Reflect (QuarterStick)

Sep 1, 2004 at 4:00 am
With her third solo album, You Sound, Reflect, Tara Jane O'Neil (of Rodan, Retsin and Sonora Pine fame) has created yet another slightly flawed record of muted beauty.

O'Neil bills the record as her "troubadour album," which is somewhat apt (especially the song "Howl"), but perhaps her "somnambulist album" is a better description -- and that's not an entirely bad thing. Consider the first track, "Take the Waking," which sounds like a long-lost song exhumed straight from the Rodan tomb, very much along the lines of "Bible Silver Corner" with its meditative progression and haunting use of space but without all the elegant guitar intricacies of the Rodan number. Other songs such as "The Poisoned Mine" and "Famous Yellow Belly" show their brilliance when examined individually but, when taken altogether as an album, tend to sublimate into background mood music -- it's far too easy to sit down to a mundane task such as crocheting a hat or painting your walls and forget you even put the record on. Perhaps the record is just too intimate, too comfortable?

Still, either way, all is not a loss. If you have the attention to concentrate on the songs, you will generally be rewarded with gorgeously melancholic yet atypically constructed singer/songwriter fare. However, if you're just searching for some lazy-day mood music or for the perfect soundtrack to that highbrow novel you've been thumbing through for the past few nights, then You Sound, Reflect will more than meet your needs.