published: 28 /
Ambitious and enthralling third album from New York-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, which includes guest appearances from Zach Condon of Beirut, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, the National’s Aaron Dessner and the Walkmen's Matt Barrick
Sharon Van Etten’s third album is her most ambitious yet, and further chronicles her growth as an artist and songwriter since her 2009 debut, 'Because I Was in Love' (via her 2010 follow-up, 'Epic'). On 'Tramp', Van Etten lets loose and expands her sound by fleshing out her songs with more instrumentation, courtesy of a cast of supporting musicians that should make Van Etten’s contemporaries green with envy: Zach Condon of Beirut (who shares vocal duties on ‘We Are Fine'), Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, the National’s Aaron Dessner (who also produced the album, along with recording it in his own garage studio) and Matt Barrick of the Walkmen, whose amazing drumming drives a good portion of the tracks - ‘Magic Chords’, ‘Leonard’, ‘In Line’ and ‘Serpants’, which is probably the most immediately gripping track on 'Tramp'.
Not that you could really leave out any of the tracks if you were looking for high points on this record. Van Etten’s songwriting is incredibly personal, and I think the way in which she gives herself over to her music in such a forthright manner instils all of her songs with a gravitas that is missing from so many of the paint-by-numbers songs my ears are so often assaulted with. It also helps that Sharon Van Etten knows her way around a brilliant melody, of course.
I honestly don’t know how many different ways I can tell you how much I love this album. I’ve been lucky enough to have my review copy for a few months now, and it hasn’t been out of my listening pile once in that time. This is an intelligent rock record, comprised of engaging, beautiful, expertly crafted songs that come together to make a confident, cohesive whole. I hate it when critics say whatever they’re reviewing is the best “...of the year!” in January, but equally I really enjoy being a hypocrite. I promise you, this will be one of the albums of the year. Order it now, if you’re not an idiot.
All I Can
We Are Fine
Joke or a Lie