Friday, March 9, 2012

Sharon Van Etten - Because I Was In Love

[edit: i'm amending this post, slightly, if anyone has already read this]

This is the first fully produced record by Sharon Van Etten, an American Singer/Songwriter from Brooklyn. Folksy, but not revisionist; it seems to me that this woman sings the songs from her heart; heartfelt. On Because i was in love, it seems that Sharon Van Etten is getting over some complicated relationship, or perhaps in the midst of one - its the sound on one woman coping.

Because i was in love is a stripped-down affair, but not sparse, the sonic pallet is full, her jazz-like acoustic guitar and weathered voice fleshed out with subtle organs, tambourines, multi-tracked vocals; all the best bits of a solitary singer-songwriter working in the post- Elliot Smith landscape. She reminds me most clearly of early Cat Power, but Sharon Van Etten seems less broken, less neurotic; more mature, more confident.

I've been nursing a tattered heart for the last 6 months or so, reborn into the infinite now every moment of the day, holding on for dear life. Every day is so rich and conflicted, there is so much joy and beauty and sorrow and melancholy. It can't be fit into a particular genre or stereotype, i mean sure i'll put on my brave face and pull out my Mayhem records and pretend to be brutal as fuck for an hour, but i just can't get much steam on that level of posturing. The music that most closely matches my inner world is conflicted and confusing, romantic and sorrowful; full of blurred lines and collapsing boundaries.

I've just recently discovered Sharon Van Etten, digging around for quality down-tempo music, and Because I Was In Love, has been my favorite so far. I think the sparse production and arrangement suits her emotionally bare material better than the saturated production of Epic, her most recent, where every inch of the canvas is filled. Her voice sounds like an old fencepost, weathered but still warm from the sun. Her guitar is simple and deadly effective, jazzy and blue-sy. There are very little frills on this record, it is solid as a granite mountain range. It sucked me in and cast a spell on me.

'For You', the single from this record, has been my jam of the month, catchy as bubonic plague, i've listened to it obsessively. It works well in the morning, while having yr first cup of coffee, or in the afternoon, if you need to excuse yrself from the hyper manic pace of the present. Highly recommended, as is the rest of this album.

Left to my own devices, i will spend default to listening to sad introspective folk music, listening to my breath my heartbeat while finger-picked guitars send prismatic goose-flesh up and down my arms; the soundtrack to washing dishes and staring out the window, twisting my Heidegger beard, going crazy and having wild epiphanies, over and over. The soundtrack to coping, to getting by, to combating ennui and the complex gymnastics of a hyper aware nervous system, dealing with emotions and eternity and the Self. Because I Was In Love is rich and layered, a perfect antidote to heartbreak and confusion. It just makes me feel better. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful album. Even better than her more recent work, I daresay. It's good that you've found it. Definitely a keeper.