Back in the late winter I was reading an album writeup in a magazine that caught my eye. It claimed that “Sharon Van Etten’s latest album Tramp [was] the female counterpart to Beck’s 2002 Sea Change“. As you know, Avid Reader, that was all that had to be said for me to seek this album out and give it a spin. A little back history: Beck’s album was created in reaction to breaking up with his girlfriend of nine years and committing those feelings to tape. It is a tough yet rewarding listen as his voice rises and falls you can feel his pain through his acoustic guitar and light arrangements. Keeping that in mind, I was ready to hear what Ms. Van Etten had to say.
Adding more electric guitar and taking a lot of jabs at the fellow who broke her heart, she also manages to look within herself to see what went wrong. These are not happy songs by any means, folks, but what she is saying comes from her gut and that takes a lot of courage. She has a voice that speaks of much experience for someone who isn’t very old and this is her third album so far. Her folk sound is what makes you tune in and nod along with each line.
When I hear albums like this I always feel like I am listening in on someone else’s fights and problems, so I should turn away instead of turning up the volume. It is easy to get lost in these songs as they take you along and bring you to a state of comfort even though the subject manner is quite the opposite.
For starters I would suggest: “Warsaw”, “We Are Fine”,”Kevin’s”, “In Line” and “Ask”. This isn’t something I’ll break out on a sunny day when I’m cruising down the highway; no, these albums are made for times of introspection, but it deserves to be heard. Some of the best albums were made because of break ups; don’t believe me? Check here or here to see a few lists. At some point Ms. Van Etten will be among them if she isn’t already.