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New Van Etten album reveals maturity

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Sharon Van Etten
The closing song of Sharon Van Etten’s previous album, Epic, is one that showcases subject matter of a damaged soul – one that is broken and in need of repair.

The track “Love More” weeps and mourns with the opening lines: “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.”

But the track adds some closure to the seven-song collection, as it culminates with a somewhat inspirational tone, which Van Etten digresses that it made her “love more.”

The closing track segues perfectly into her most recent endeavor, Tramp.

Van Etten, who resided Murfreesboro during the early-2000s, didn’t have the most pleasant time while she was in this town with a boyfriend who discouraged her from playing music.

She doesn’t hide this fact.

During her stint as an MTSU student in Murfreesboro, Van Etten worked at the Red Rose Coffee Shop, but her troubled relationship and no other plans ultimately led her back to her native New Jersey in the mid-2000s.

If there was one bright side to her days in town, her experiences did inhibit a creative side that fueled her songwriting.

Since then, she’s been doing quite well, playing major festivals, including Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Bumbershoot and South by Southwest.

Joining the roster of Jagjaguwar last summer, Van Etten is now in the same company with Grammy-winner Bon Iver, Okkervil River and Dinosaur Jr.

Her latest album, Tramp, was released this month and has harvested great reviews from Pitchfork and The New York Times, along with NPR.

Van Etten has been busy of late as she spent time traveling from place to place during the album’s sessions. Produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, the 12-song work is a mix of sultry and poignant tunes that add depth to the artist’s catalog.

Tramp opens with more pop and kick than previous efforts with the track “Warsaw” and marches into two of the albums most vital songs with “Give Out” and “Serpents.”

“Give Out” is a high-emotional tune that is reminiscent of tracks from Epic with the line “You’re the reason why I move to the city or why I’ll need to live,” hinting there is some disturbing undertone still present with the singer.

As “Serpents” builds a heavy-rocking layer of rising action, the album then pushes back the tempo as it acts as the heaviest arrangement on the album.

One of the most picturesque tracks on Tramp comes with the help of Beirut’s Zach Condon on “We Are Fine.”

Other collaborators on the album include Matt Barrick of the Walkmen, Thomas Bartlett of Doveman, Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Julianna Barwick.

Van Etten’s shifting voice continues to be the driving force in her development as an artist, and Tramp provides a grand stepping-stone in a new direction.

She is currently on tour and will stop in Nashville on April 26 for a performance at Mercy Lounge.

For more information about Van Etten, visit sharonvanetten.com.
Tagged under  Arts, Concert, Entertainment, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Music, New Jersey, Sharon Van Etten

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