Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sharon Van Etten Is A Slow Burn With Epic

Sharon Van Etten"To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." — e e cummings

This is the quote that Sharon Van Etten introduces herself with as an upstart singer/songwriter with a flair for simple acoustic licks and hypnotic lyrics. It fits. Any place she has a guitar becomes her confessional. It plays perfectly when you feel reflective.

The power is in the songwriting. Some of it is inspired by a controlling ex-boyfriend she talked about during an interview with the AV Club last January. He's in jail now, she said.

"He was a rocker guy, and he just thought I wasn’t good enough to play out," she said. "So sometimes I had to sneak out to play open mics."

She is good enough, even if she's just finding her legs. Everybody who is nobody seems to be covering her and she's earning a reputation as accessible. She even played a hotel couch for NPR.

Most of her music drones on with laments and anguish. She says Epic isn't as sad as the last EP. I dunno. It's sad enough that everyone I know says it's difficult to listen to too many tracks back to back. Maybe so. But I hear some hope this time around.

Seeing her live is different. She leaves audiences in a trance, sometimes unsure if it's appropriate to applaud someone who shared their soul. It will be a wonder how Junip will be able to follow her as an opening act, with her lyrics still haunting their heads. Have a listen. She's addictive.

That track didn't even make the cut for her latest EP, giving listeners more than 20 to pick from on iTunes. On the Epic outing, the best of seven includes One Day, Don't Do It, and A Crime (with a hint of Indigo Girls). Love More works. Off the album, pick up her cover of the Thompson Twins' If You Were Here. She adds a depth and dimension to the song that never existed.

Epic By Sharon Van Etten Haunts Heads With A 4.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

With a full album due out in October, the question everyone is asking is how Sharon Van Etten can remained so restrained. Where some artists get angry over their angst, Van Etten efficiently embraces her demons and owns them. Me, I hope she pushes that passion toward the alternative rock side before the slow burn smolders.

Epic is available from iTunes. If You Were Here can be found on the back side of her single One Day, released in August. Epic can also be downloaded from Amazon.
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