Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About It All Wrong (Jagjaguwar) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, June 16th, 2024  

Sharon Van Etten

We’ve Been Going About It All Wrong


May 16, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Sharon Van Etten returns with her follow-up to 2019’s Remind Me Tomorrow. Made during the pandemic in her home studio in her new hometown of Los Angeles (following many years of being based in New York), it feels like her most personal statement in quite some time, perhaps even echoing back to her early CD-R releases and sparse, claustrophobic, deeply uncomfortable uneasy listening, folk-inflected debut LP, Because I Was in Love, from all the way back in 2009. Of course, she’s a completely different artist now, much more in command of her massive gifts, vocally, lyrically, and in bringing out long-bubbling emotions to the surface.

In a sense, it’s a wonder that we are treated to new albums from her every few years given the fact that she’s also a mom, actor (most prominently on Netflix’s The OA, but also in several films the past few years), and was studying psychology as well. It’s amazinf, then, that she also manages to continue to do this, but we should all be grateful that she does because this is her best album since 2011’s epic, perhaps even her career-best. From the opening notes of “Darkness Fades” you know that this is something special. Sonically, this isn’t a million miles from her last few albums, not just the aforementioned Remind Me Tomorrow but also 2014’s Are We There?, where she first started expanding her sound and in the process widely expanding her audience.

However, there’s a pandemic-influenced despair here on songs such as the trio of “Home to Me,” “I’ll Try,” and “Anything” that is notably different from the more upbeat, yet typically soul-searching nature of much of Remind Me Tomorrow

With its pleading cry of “Baby don’t you turn your back to me,” ”Headspace” is another highlight from the second half of the album, but by the time of the penultimate track “Mistakes,” it feels like a cathartic release that the album had only been hinting towards for its first eight tracks, its absolutely epic (no pun intended) chorus acting as an exorcism for being haunted by past, self-perceived failures. And ultimately, though the musicians here (most prominently, drummer Jorge Balbi, multi-instrumentalist Charley Damski, and bassist Devin Hoff along with Owen Pallett guesting on “Born”) helped to bring this to fruition, this is Van Etten’s show. Her voice is front and center here, this co-production job between Van Etten and Daniel Knowles being perhaps her best sounding record sonically as well. With a voice as powerful as hers, it is a wise choice, as is listening to this album. At only 10 tracks and 39 minutes, it leaves you wanting more, so the logical choice is just to play it again and be mesmerized another time. (

Author rating: 8/10

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