Tara Jane O’Neil Shares “Glass Island”

Ahead of her new album, The Cool Cloud Of Okayness (Orindal Records), Tara Jane O’Neil shares the single “Glass Island.” A house burns down and is rebuilt again, persons become spirit, known worlds break apart and fall together again. Tara Jane O’Neil’s new album, The Cool Cloud of Okayness, was written amidst the skirmishes and shuffle of the seven years since her last song-based album (although there has been a fascinating array of collaborations, tributes, rarities, and experiments released in the interim). Recorded by TJO at her home studio in Upper Ojai, California, a studio built on the ashes of the home lost to the Thomas Fire.

Many of The Cool Cloud of Okayness’s nine tracks were developed in the time between the wildfire and the rebuilding, between lockdown and reopening. TJO, her partner (dancer, choreographer and frequent collaborator) Jmy James Kidd and their dog sheltered from the storms in the high desert of Southern California and the deep suburbs of Louisville, KY. In these locales were discovered the improvised bass guitar figures to Kidd’s dance which transformed into songs during pandemic isolation, then brought to the ensemble of drummer/percussionist Sheridan Riley (of Alvvays), multi-instrumentalist Walt McClements, and on a couple, guitarist Meg Duffy (of Hand Habits).  They build and gleefully destroy and rebuild again. There is joy in the ensemble’s shared queer identity- an identity that refuses to be agreed upon. This record too challenges any easy genre or definition. This record is sculpture and portrait of times and loved ones gone past. It is spiritual and it is psychedelic. TJO’s deft production and rock-solid bass playing hold the center, and her spectral guitar and singing voice carry the message.

The Cool Cloud of Okayness sings sometimes like a promise, sometimes like a mantra. It says “We are bright, like the fire. Joy too can be a way of fighting.” In the persistent rhythms, every repetition feels like a challenge. How many times around the sun? What changes every time? How much loss can someone take? Grief becomes a feedback loop that drones on and on, yet if we listen closely one can almost hear the hope sprouting up, little seedlings pushing through the mud. The Cool Cloud of Okayness is both a celebration and a requiem, it transforms grief, it carries a torch, and the torch is bright.