Sharon van Etten – Epic



Oh dear I am rather obsessing about this album. Sharon van Etten has been spinning around just off my radar proper for a couple of months, which means that, foolish chap that I am, I have only just got to Epic. It was released at the end of last year, but I am slotting it into 2011 just because I can and otherwise I won’t be able to list it in an end-of-year-fab-albums-type post.

Another earnest singer-songwriter might not appear to be an absolute necessity for everyone but SVE really does have something extra. The ‘extra’ has not been missed by the likes of Justin Vernon and The National both of whom have performed some of SVE’s songs. Indeed The National played one at the Brixton show at the end of last year but I was too dumb to take notice of which one exactly. Indeed SVE will be The Nationals support for some of their Spring European dates, lets hope the boisterous crowds give her the attention she deserves.

A guitar, a voice and a very little extra accompaniment might suggest meagre rations, but the combination is so much more than the sum of its parts – the Portland Mercury aligned the combination to the alchemy that creates mead, and I dare not steal their elegant simile.

Logging in at only a little over 32 minutes the album can not be accused of outstaying its welcome but throughout van Ettens voice cuts its remarkable way. Not the fey folky girl nor the strident screamer van Etten has a deeper power to it, a heft not often felt, a voice from the stomach not the throat.

For such a short album there is a surprising variety in the songs – the hypnotic mantra like qualities of the harmonium based DsharpG, the more accessible One Day, relative rocker Peace Signs and the more despairing Don’t Do It, my personal favourite, that builds and builds.

 Sharon Van Etten – Don’t Do It

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