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Monday, September 27th, 2010

Love More

Review of Sharon Van Etten’s Epic

Photo By Allison KayeAllison KayeIt’s hard to reconcile Sharon Van Etten with the exquisitely sad character who crafted her gorgeous debut album Because I Was In Love. On stage and in person, she’s a friendly and outgoing young woman who seems worlds removed from the bruised soul who inhabits her songs, but there’s no questioning the honesty behind the record – built around Van Etten’s skeletal guitarwork, raw lyrics and stunningly emotive voice, it was impossible to imagine that something that came across so intimately and personal could have any guile around it.

It was also a record that as great as it was, for the artist’s sake, you hoped she wouldn’t be able to create a similarly inspired follow-up; navigating the emotional terrain that informed the debut wasn’t the sort of thing you’d wish on anyone twice, and yet there was no denying the want or need to hear more from her, of her voice. Where do you go from there? To Epic. Though clocking in at just seven tracks and barely 32 minutes, it doesn’t quantitatively measure up to its name, the emotional breadth of the music contained therein actually makes the title something of an understatement. Whereas Love‘s voice and primarily acoustic guitar aesthetic suited the material perfectly, Epic takes the necessary step of filling out the arrangements with a full band. It’s a sound that we got a taste of when she last played Toronto in April and tourmates Megafaun backed her up for one song and the greatness of the configuration is borne out by the richer sounds of Epic, and allows her to more fully delve into particular styles, like the rock drive of “Peace Sign” and steel-enhanced country of “Save Yourself”.

But more important than the sonic growth on Epic is the lyrical and emotional growth; whereas Love focused on the titular subject and its aftermath, the follow-up gets up, dusts itself off and fights back. There is a distinct snarl about Epic that’s surprising but also quite welcome, fitting nicely with the more dynamic arrangements and reinforcing the sense of strength that permeates the album without losing any of Van Etten’s trademark vulnerability. Though they only number seven, each song on Epic has a distinct vibe that sets it apart from its peers and together, they make for a complete musical and emotional journey that ends, fittingly, on the gorgeous and hopeful “Love More”; a song which, like the rest of the album, makes any working heart simultaneously break and soar.

Rollo & Grady and Kevchino interview Sharon, who will be opening up for Junip on their Fall tour including the November 5 show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

Two weeks before it’s due to be released on October 12, Sufjan Stevens’ new album The Age Of Adz is up to stream at NPR. Stevens and company play Massey Hall on October 13.

Stream: Sufjan Stevens / The Age Of Adz

DCist talks to Amy Klein and The Washington Post to Patrick Stickles, both of Titus Andronicus.

Drowned In Sound meets Josh Ritter, who’ll be at the Phoenix on October 26.

The Flaming Lips have released another nudity-replete, NSFW video from Embryonic. Know what would be really groundbreaking from these guys? A clip where everyone keeps their clothes on. Mind. Blown.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “See The Leaves”

Spin checks in with Chris Walla on how the new Death Cab For Cutie album is coming. Don’t expect anything before 2011, obviously.

Incendiary talks to Warpaint, who will be at Massey Hall opening up for The xx on Wednesday night and will release their debut album The Fool on October 26.

NYC Taper was on-hand for at least two of Pavement’s many New York City shows this week – check out recordings from two of the Central Park shows and NPR’s interview with Matthew of Fluxblog about attending all five of the band’s recent New York shows. Update: All five shows are up on NYC Taper’s site.

The Courier-Journal talks inspiration and influence with The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who has just written an anthem for the Minnesota Twins – details and a stream at Spin.

eMusic chats with Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

Southern Souls have posted a video session with The Dø, recorded on their recent visit to Toronto.

Drowned In Sound spends some time with the non-Nick Cave members of Grinderman. They are at the Phoenix on November 11. With Cave. Don’t Worry.

By : Frank Yang at 8:42 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post3 Responses.
  1. Samuel J says:

    Go Twins Go! Yankees suck!

    Saw SVE at Trinity-St Paul’s when she opened for Great Lake Swimmers, had never heard of her. Absolutely gorgeous performance, just a hollow-body electric, her amazing voice and some excellent acoustics. Silenced the room, and gave one of the most tender performances I’ve ever seen. Go see her!!!

    On that tangent, I would love it if more bands started playing TO’s church venues more often. TSP’s, Church of the Redeemer, the Music Gallery, that one where Cowboy Junkies recorded a while back…we have some amazing spots, but I wonder if they’re on the radar of touring or even local bands…? (Jason Collett’s @ Redeemer in November.)

    Thanks for the awesome work, Frank. You rock.

  2. stalevar says:

    Bettie just cancelled her show tomorrow.. passpot issues

  3. Frank Yang says:

    BALLS