Review: Sharon Van Etten – ‘Tramp’

Originally published for IAreYeti.

America’s answer to Laura Marling, Sharon Van Etten, is one of those many artists with plenty of talent but a serious lack of recognition. Her music is simple, understated and to the point, which is what all the best music should be. Her third studio album, ‘Tramp’, is about moving on and learning to be at peace with one’s self; a significant progression from her previous two albums, which mainly dealt with the issues of heartbreak and despair. For Van Etten, song writing seems to be a cathartic release and you can really hear the emotion in every lyric she sings, a skill which many modern artists fail to achieve. With the perfect combination of exquisite lyrics and haunting vocals, ‘Tramp’ is certainly not an album to be missed.

On lead single, ‘Serpents’, Van Etten sings “You enjoy sucking on dreams” with such a sharp tone of resentment in the lead up to the chorus that her anger rings right through you. Then, after that sudden burst of angst, it all begins to calm down a bit. The poignant opening lyrics of “I was a child / I wasn’t worried” on ‘In Line’, accompanied by the slow-paced drum rhythm and echoing wails in the background, make it one of the most haunting songs on the album.

To take the listener on a journey is one of the best things an artist can do on a record and this is something Sharon Van Etten achieves brilliantly on ‘Tramp’: it draws you in, hooks you and, ultimately, allows you to feel part of something. From the despairing laments of “I want to be over you” on opening track, ‘Warsaw’, to the beautifully expressed moments of closure on tracks like ‘We Are Fine’, where Van Etten declares “Everything seems clear / And we’re alright”; ‘Tramp’ is the kind of album that you will not be able to forget quickly.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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