Amidst the now ever-expanding catalogue of female fronted indie/alternative-rock pop acts sits Brooklyn’s own Sharon Van Etten. While this well of creative styling has begun to be tapped hard, Van Etten offers something that’s too often absent—spirit. While many artists are lyrically explorative of their own demons, few deliver their trials and tribulations with the gravitas Van Etten possesses.
Sure, anybody can write a sad song; however, not everyone can perform one. This is what separates Sharon Van Etten from her peers, her ability to sacrifice herself in the name of her body of work. Her catalogue plays like a history textbook. It’s full of all the important events and dates, but they’re masterfully sewn together and contextualized by atmospherics and evolving narratives and themes. Don’t believe me? Check out Etten’s latest release, Tramp.
Tracks like “Serpents,” “In Line,” and “Give Out” tell different tales through silky and haunting vocals, well paced drumming, and spacy guitars. This pretty much serves as the standard format for Van Etten—a tight narrative, magnetic vocals, and even instrumentation that brings the whole body together. With her latest album, Are We There, due out next month, Van Etten looks to refine and expand her sonic canon with a more roomy sound and additional electronic touches. This is spotlighted on the first single released, “Taking Chances.”
A lot of artists dress up their experiences with exaggerated emotion, impenetrable lyricism, and even instrumentation. Sharon van Etten is more a subscriber to the minimalist approach, where less is much more. Though this approach isn’t well suited for everyone, it works wonders under the right hand(s). Needless to say, Van Etten’s hands are more than capable.
Article by Michael Ventimiglia