Sharon Van Etten
Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
Hailed by critics and fans as a genius, Sharon Van Etten’s work exists, unfairly, below a surprising amount of people’s musical radars. Often angry, often sad and always deeply personal, her lyrics and musicianship (often with accompaniment and production from The National’s Bryce Dessner) display an artist old beyond her years, whose struggle to acclaim is testament to both her talent and resilience.
Her latest LP Are We There is another exceptional gem to her catalogue and one that, while hardly uplifting, is almost worryingly affecting. Getting the ball rolling is the fantastic Afraid Of Nothing, a track in which instruments are layered masterfully, melding effortlessly with Van Etten’s mournful lyrics: ‘I need you to be afraid of nothing.’
The next offering takes a comparatively upbeat turn; a dreamy, bass-heavy number recalling latter-day Beach House, or a heavily sedated Radio Dept. Our Love is pure 80s romance, with slow, electronic drums and a guitar line which border on Prince-ballad levels of heartache and lament. There is, in fact, something in almost every track worth writing about; suffice to say that this is an excellent record and one that is further testament to Van Etten’s considerable talent.
– – – – – – – – – –
Words: Jon Clark