Tara Jane O'Neil A Ways Away

One can't help but think of Sonic Youth's "Little Trouble Girl," minus Kim Gordon, during the opening track of Tara Jane O'Neil's A Ways Away. It's all in the delicately picked guitar and sparsely rattling percussion, but the mood created is almost eerie in its comforting warmth. O'Neil explores terrain far removed from that sinister take on folk via exploratory punk, but it's the investigative nature of her soft folk musings that lend pertinence to such a reference point. An accomplished guitarist who has worked with the likes of Mirah and Papa M, O'Neil allows the phrases of her music to swell and pulse, her melodies sitting lightly like a princess sunning herself atop the stomach of a giant slumbering bird. The ebb and flow tension is subtle, as each song seems to be on the verge of a grand revelation but fades into oblivion before full catharsis can be achieved. Sometimes, that hint is all that's necessary. (K)