Friday, 28 November 2014
#4: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
Following on from 2012's much-loved Tramp, 2014 found Sharon Van Etten in playful mood. While the former LP clung to traditional indie rock singer-songwriter tropes, sculpting out a sonic palette used to great effect by PJ Harvey in the '90s, Are We There sounded fresh and ready to branch out. Self-produced on this occasion, Van Etten set her voice to drum machines, synths and outright love songs, without any of it sounding staid or saccharine. Part of this came about by sitting her most heartfelt gestures next to a robust sense of humour. 'People say I'm a one hit wonder,' she muses, 'But what happens when I have two?' If the cocksure attitude isn't enough, we get the confession to follow: 'I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom.' The album ends with a burst of laughter, one of those in-studio outtakes that sometimes feel like a contrived attempt to humanise the artist. Here, it sounds genuine, rounding off the confidence and joy that comes from an artist performing at the top of her game.