Records hide so many things in their grooves. We often forget about the time and effort put into them, and about the trials behind them. The platter spins, the needle drops, and the music issues effortlessly from the speakers. What could be easier? But for Tara Jane O’Neil five years, five studios, eight musicians, Hurricane Irene and a Kickstarter program came between her last solo album and Where Shine New Lights, her debut for Chicago’s Kranky record label.
Not that you’d know it from listening. If most performances seem effortless coming from a stereo, O’Neil’s latest sounds inevitable, as natural and as spectacular as a sunrise. Five years gave her time to carve the excess from her songs and instill them with a fragile, suite-like continuity. They range from cloudy, barely-there instrumentals to pop songs painted in shades of white and shimmering yellow.