Sharon Van Etten: Because I Was in Love

By: Bear Connelly

If you are in the mood for some deliciously soothing music to ease in to your Sunday morning, Sharon Van Etten is worth a spin. The Brooklyn based singer-songwriter has just released her debut (well, professional debut – she's had some homemade short runs of lo-fi recordings in the past) on Language of Stone. Upon first glance you will notice the dreamy soprano and bare bones accompaniment mirror that of Cat Power's first couple records, but I assure you this is no knock-off artist.

Because I Was in Love (released May 26) is an aptly named offering that evokes both lyrical and musical heartache that the album exemplifies. Van Etten is very straightforward with her tales of love, not often hiding behind cryptic messages or metaphors. Similar to the way you read Rivers Cuomo's lyrics, Van Etten's read like a diary and not poetry. The albums opening lines, "I wish I knew what to do with you/ but the truth is I ain't got a clue, do you?" and, "I hate to admit it but I don't know shit/ and neither do you/ and that is good enough for me/ as long as we can talk about it," read like a desperate plea to a new love interest but she sings the lines with such melodious crooning that the listener never notices the lack of rhyme scheme or structure.

Sparse arrangements (mostly acoustic guitar with some organ and bass mixed in) provide perfect backdrop for Van Etten to let her inner being shine. "Tornado" is a perfect example of how dense is not often better. Espers' Greg Week's electric guitar fills provide a stark but somehow pertinent response to Etten call, "I'm a tornado, you are the dust/ you're all around." Despite a great sound, Van Etten doesn't stray from her formula much. The album tends to drift off and meander as you listen. Tempo changes may benefit her in the future if she really wants to capture her audience wholeheartedly with her siren song.

JamBase | Whispering Wind
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http://www.sharonvanetten.com/

[Published on: 6/18/09]

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