Sharon Van Etten


Sharon Van Etten: We Are There

By Stephen Warren

“I think everything makes you better as long as you don’t have any regrets,” Sharon Van Etten said in a recent Pitchfork interview. “Find some love in whatever’s happened in your life, and move forward.”

That’s exactly what Sharon Van Etten is doing with her fourth studio album Are We There. Released on May 27 th , the album is the follow-up to Van Etten’s breakthrough Tramp, with more of the candid, personal lyrics for which she is known. But this time she has added more to the table than just guitar and her unique voice, incorporating piano, woodwinds and even some electronic elements.

Finding love in life experiences is a good motto for Sharon Van Etten to live by. After attending Middle Tennessee State University, she found herself in an abusive relationship while living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. For five years, she hid the fact that she wrote songs from her boyfriend, because he would tell her she was not good enough. In fact, he called her music “terrible” and unfit for others to hear. But she moved on; first heading back home to New Jersey (later, Brooklyn), then creating the “terrible” music that is now spurring her growing international following.

Even years after her abusive experience in Tennessee, Van Etten often relives some of the darkest moments of her past relationship through her music. Much of Are We There focuses on the last chapters of that relationship. She writes about how emotional it can be trying to find a way out, especially when there seems to be no path. This, in particular, is where Van Etten excels. Instead of simply saying, “Breaking up is hard to do,” she explains exactly why it can be so hard, even when the choice to do so seems so obvious.

Now—her past behind her and regret-free—Sharon Van Etten is bringing forward more of her critically-acclaimed, intimate, harmony-driven music. And with Are We There generating reviews with phrases like “captivating,” “pretty much amazing,” and even “magnificent” from Rolling Stone’s 4-star review, the world is a better place for it.