Sharon Van Etten–“epic”

Dec 2nd, 2010 in Music

We knew we’d heard that voice somewhere before.  Turns out Sharon Van Etten sang backup vocals on The Antler’s auspicious “Hospice” album from last year.  Van Etten released her second record “epic” two months ago, and it is currently occupying copious amounts of our musical jukebox.

Though only a sub-“epic” seven songs in length, Brooklyn-based (of course) singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten nonetheless delivers epic proportions of musical art on this record. Her voice is pure but edgy (think Kristen Hersh or Cat Power), and conveys well the honesty of Van Etten’s rampant lyrical pathos.   As opposed to her first record, Van Etten is backed on “epic” by a full band and enhanced with enticing interstitial instrumentation (harmonium; plucked guitar) and harmony vocals. Her delivery manages to make the confessional lyrics levitate.  Our favorite song off “epic” is the transcendent final song, Love More, which is built around a simple chord pattern that ebbs and flows perfectly throughout and adds mournful ghosting-harmonies that embellish the burnished beauty of the song.

As opposed to Love More, another of our faves, Don’t Do It, has a heavier, muddier electric guitar/harmonium mix that borders on anthem in the oft-repeated chorus. We hear the influence of her interaction with The Antlers. Don’t Do It smacks of a desperate plea to a downtrodden soul (“Look me in the eyes, say you can’t do it”) not dissimilar in theme to The Antlers’ song Wake. Van Etten sings well of the pain and frustration, ultimately ending in resigned resolve (“I wish I could make you right”).

Check out Love More and Don’t Do It below, along with the video of her performing Love More solo.  And then check out the great segment from Shaking Through.  Stunning stuff.

Love More

“Chained to the wall of our room
yeah you chained me like a dog in our room
I thought that’s how it was
I thought that we were fine
then the day was night
you were high you were high when I was doomed
and dying for with no light with no light

Tied to my bed
I was younger then
I had nothing to spend but time on you
but it made me love it made me love it made me love more
it made me love it made me love it made me love more

Do what you said the words she said left out
over unto the sky where I’ll soon fly
and she took the time
to believe in to believe in what she said
and she made me love she made me love she made me love more
she made me love she made me love she made me love more.”

Sharon Van Etten–Love More


Sharon Van Etten–Don’t Do It


Watch Van Etten perform Love More below.

You can also check out her recent Tiny Desk Concert on NPR



Comments have been closed for this post.