Sharon Van Etten: Are We There

Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten could hardly be called self-indulgent. Her records, whether produced in collaboration with members of bands such as The National, Espers and Beirut, or whether they are more of a solo affair, such as on her latest, self-produced album, Are We There, are emotional without being strident and built through uncluttered arrangements that never lose sight of a song's harmonic core. Yet there is something extra on this new record that suggests it is her most personal yet.


Some songs seem constructed around somewhat sombre piano and keyboard lines, such as the beautiful ballad, "I Know." Van Etten sings as confidently as she has ever has, yet the plaintive quality of her voice comes out strongly here. Even the song titles ("Your Love Is Killing Me," "I Love You But I'm Lost," "Nothing Will Change") seem particularly harrowing. Nonetheless, the record is still nothing less than entertaining, ending with a brief moment of giggling in the studio, which proves it's not all doom and gloom. In fact, it is a solid piece of affecting musical storytelling that will surely stand the test of time.

-Eric J. Lawrence

Track List:

1. Afraid of Nothing
2. Taking Chances
3. Your Love Is Killing Me
4. Our Love
5. Tarifa
6. I Love You But I'm Lost
7. You Know Me Well
8. Break Me
9. Nothing Will Change
10. I Know
11. Every Time the Sun Comes Up

Photo by Dusdin Condren, courtesy of the artist