Tara Jane O'Neil
Thurs Sept 23
Berbati's Pan
10 SW 3rd

You know those people who are easygoing but really intense? Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tara Jane O'Neil is one of those people; a pretty private person who never stops putting her idiosyncratic, often beautiful art in front of other people. She's a musician and painter, and her speaking voice has a lovely lilt to it that belies a Louisville, KY upbringing. If you earn a smile from her you'll feel like you won the lottery, not 'cause it's so rare but because that smile is so full.

Tara's played in Rodan and Retsin and the Sonora Pine. Currently a Portland resident, she has just released the finest of her four solo records, You Sound, Reflect (Touch & Go), a slowly burning disc perfect for the rainy months of winter. When asked what the most important things to get across about this record are, she replies that "I play almost everything on the record. I've been doing this for a long time, and I'm a woman, so I'm automatically psychoanalyzed every time I release something."

Recorded in both Olympia and Portland over the past two years, on this album she worked with new players, all West Coasters. She says that she was "looking for a more organic experience, for more simple song structures to let the songs themselves breathe more... Of course I recorded it," she continues. "Of course I had little rehearsal with people who do play on it. Of course many things were left to chance and many mistakes were actually revealed to be appropriate, and appropriately applied."

She might get lumped in with the "weird America" avant-folk hippie movement, but Tara's more in love with classic pop than those people, especially on this record. These songs are a cobwebby combination of things you might find in Califone, June Tabor, Neil Young ca. Zuma, Karen Dalton, and Ida. Songs like "Howl" and "Tea Is Better than Poison" are lovely but brooding and minor-keyed. It's closer to New Zealand underground musicians such as This Kind of Punishment and Chris Knox than the pearly nuggets of Joanna and Devendra, but just as revelatory.