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Alternative & Indie - Released May 27, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

Brooklyn singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten's transfixing voice and often heart-wrenching songs come through in an odd mixture of pain and flourishing inspiration on the best moments of her fourth album, Are We There. The album, produced by Van Etten herself with some help from New York-based producer Stewart Lerman (Elvis Costello, Sophie B. Hawkins), follows her 2012 outing Tramp and trades up on some of the crushed indie templates of that album for new stylistic territory. From her first hushed demo-like recordings, Van Etten's songs have more often than not found their lyrical core stemming from painful relationships and hard times, culminating in Tramp's tales of homelessness, uncertainty, and desperation. Are We There's 11 selections also mine her harrowed heart for inspiration, be it the slow-burning portrait of a toxic love/hate romance in "Your Love Is Killing Me" or the obsessed fixation on an absent lover in "Break Me." While there's still a fair amount of heartbreak and pain in the subject matter of the songs, the folky strums and indie rock clatter of Tramp and earlier records have been expanded upon with more inventive musical approaches, leaving the album feeling much brighter, even in its darkest moments. "Taking Chances" is guided by an unexpectedly slinking bassline and minimal drum machine clicks, Van Etten's voice melting like honey over their laid-back foundations before introducing rawkus guitars on the chorus. Similar instrumentation shows up on "Our Love," a steady drum machine and lonely organ drone setting the stage for the brilliantly arranged multi-tracked harmonies and an indie take on the sophisticated tones of '80s quiet storm R&B. Even when tending toward more familiar rock sounds, the arrangements on Are We There are more considered, colorful, and ornate than ever before. Where previous albums felt a little too anchored to Van Etten's samey guitar changes, here tracks like "Tarifa" explode with sure-footed horn sections, nostalgic Hammond organ, and spirals of anthemic vocal harmonies. Quieter songs like "I Know" and "I Love You But I'm Lost" are driven by piano, leaving lots of space for the vocals to soar, while the cinematic textures and haunted guitar twang of "You Know Me Well" could almost draw comparisons to Lana Del Rey in her more Twin Peaks moments. The more inventive arrangements and advances in songwriting are an undeniable step forward for Van Etten. While still immersed in songs of emotional ravagement and betrayal, the confidence of her performances and spectrum of sounds represented here suggest a complete graduation from troubled, uncertain roots into a place where she can deliver her songs with a powerful, borderless command. ~ Fred Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 7, 2012 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet
When Sharon Van Etten issued the ironically titled seven-song Epic in 2009, it stood in stark contrast to her 2007 debut, Because I Was in Love. On the latter record, she employed a full-on rock band, her songwriting gained a more defined precision, and her singing voice -- even at its most vulnerable -- seemed to speak with a confidence that didn't seem to need any frame of reference other than its own. Tramp is titled for the period of post-relationship uncertainty and the period of homelessness Van Etten experienced during its 14-month recording process. Produced by the National's Aaron Dessner, who puts the songwriter's fine singing voice front and center, it features guest appearances by Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, and more. "Warsaw," with its jagged electric guitars, bass, halting keyboards, and primitive, tom-tom heavy drums, is a shambling illustration of what's to be found here. Van Etten's protagonist is still vulnerable, but she wills herself toward a horizon past it. Likewise, the set's first single "Serpents," with its rumbling guitars and cracking snares, frankly discusses being physically and emotionally abused, but it comes from the other side, her protagonist is out of the situation, refusing to be a victim. Jenn Wassner's backing vocals in every line transform this into an anthem of survival. Not everything here falls down the rock & roll rabbit hole, however. Acoustically driven ballads such as "Kevin's," "All I Can," and "Leonard" highlight her subject's character defects and vulnerabilities as well as those of her significant other's. Van Etten's lyrics accuse as much as they confess and empathize. More often than not, her subject is the one who leaves, rather than the one left; the reasons are myriad: betrayal, co-dependency, a willingness toward an emotional freedom that allows love itself to dictate what it expects. There is great beauty on Tramp, especially in its last third; from the jaunty, acoustic stroll of "We Are Fine" to the multi-textured, nearly psych-pop of "I'm Wrong," to the airy, drifting closer "Joke or a Lie." For all this, Van Etten skirts the edges of giving us a great album without actually delivering one. Perhaps it's the exhaustive, confessional nature of its songs, its reliance on three basic melodic ideas, or even its length. Whatever the reason(s), Tramp doesn't quite fulfill its considerable promise. But this isn't a criticism; Van Etten is still a young, developing songwriter who gets more sophisticated with each album. As such, Tramp offers plenty for listeners to enjoy as she goes. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2018 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 13, 2012 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet
When Sharon Van Etten issued the ironically titled seven-song Epic in 2009, it stood in stark contrast to her 2007 debut, Because I Was in Love. On the latter record, she employed a full-on rock band, her songwriting gained a more defined precision, and her singing voice -- even at its most vulnerable -- seemed to speak with a confidence that didn't seem to need any frame of reference other than its own. Tramp is titled for the period of post-relationship uncertainty and the period of homelessness Van Etten experienced during its 14-month recording process. Produced by the National's Aaron Dessner, who puts the songwriter's fine singing voice front and center, it features guest appearances by Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, and more. "Warsaw," with its jagged electric guitars, bass, halting keyboards, and primitive, tom-tom heavy drums, is a shambling illustration of what's to be found here. Van Etten's protagonist is still vulnerable, but she wills herself toward a horizon past it. Likewise, the set's first single "Serpents," with its rumbling guitars and cracking snares, frankly discusses being physically and emotionally abused, but it comes from the other side, her protagonist is out of the situation, refusing to be a victim. Jenn Wassner's backing vocals in every line transform this into an anthem of survival. Not everything here falls down the rock & roll rabbit hole, however. Acoustically driven ballads such as "Kevin's," "All I Can," and "Leonard" highlight her subject's character defects and vulnerabilities as well as those of her significant other's. Van Etten's lyrics accuse as much as they confess and empathize. More often than not, her subject is the one who leaves, rather than the one left; the reasons are myriad: betrayal, co-dependency, a willingness toward an emotional freedom that allows love itself to dictate what it expects. There is great beauty on Tramp, especially in its last third; from the jaunty, acoustic stroll of "We Are Fine" to the multi-textured, nearly psych-pop of "I'm Wrong," to the airy, drifting closer "Joke or a Lie." For all this, Van Etten skirts the edges of giving us a great album without actually delivering one. Perhaps it's the exhaustive, confessional nature of its songs, its reliance on three basic melodic ideas, or even its length. Whatever the reason(s), Tramp doesn't quite fulfill its considerable promise. But this isn't a criticism; Van Etten is still a young, developing songwriter who gets more sophisticated with each album. As such, Tramp offers plenty for listeners to enjoy as she goes. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 9, 2015 | Jagjaguwar

Like an unreleased side C of the musically mature, thematically searching Are We There, Sharon Van Etten enacts the same tone with repeat co-producer Stewart Lerman, and is lyrically still struggling, coping, and navigating trying relationships on I Don't Want to Let You Down. Some of those relationship problems were caused, she has admitted, by being absent in the pursuit of her music career, a dilemma of self-awareness that provides fodder for much of the five-track EP. In "I Always Fall Apart," accompanied only by wistful piano and strings, she tenderly repeats "It's not my fault/It's just my flaw/It's who I am." The remaining tracks all feature a full band, including rotating guest appearances by her vocal-harmony shadow aka multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick, guitarist Adam Granduciel and bassist Dave Hartley of the War on Drugs, bassist Brad Cook of Megafaun, and drummer Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five, among others, all directing the spotlight toward Van Etten's rock-tender vocals. The self-titled opener has the quickest tempo, most pronounced guitars, and catchiest chorus, but still wails with yearning. The album closes with a seductively imperfect live performance of "Tell Me," an impactful, spaciously arranged rock lament with a far-reaching melody ("I believed you when you shut your eyes and dreamed a dream without me"). Comparisons to Brandi Carlile will continue as Van Etten pushes her vocals here with mourning yodels and sturdy grit over her ever poignant tone. Both strong and vulnerable, I Don't Want to Let You Down is a concise and angst-packed set delivered with emphasis in all the right places. ~ Marcy Donelson

Film Soundtracks - Released March 3, 2017 | 30th Century Records - Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 27, 2018 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 20, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 29, 2011 | Jagjaguwar

Pop/Rock - Released November 15, 2010 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 30, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - To be released January 18, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 23, 2016 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 8, 2015 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 29, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 5, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 6, 2012 | Jagjaguwar

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