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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CD Review: Sharon Van Etten, Epic

CD Review: Sharon Van Etten, Epic (Ba Da Bing)
By Giles Turnbull

Debut album, Because I Was In Love, showed Sharon Van Etten to be utterly open, if left a little fragile, from relationships and their endings. It could not have been more intimate had it been recorded at confession; a girl and her guitar, and you dressed in priest’s attire.

Van Etten’s follow-up, Epic, is no less revealing, but this time the stories take shape as a dialog with band. Her voice is as captivating as ever, just listen to "More Love", and even though the larger ensemble creates a bigger sound, there’s still that unmistakable vulnerability, as if trying to work out all the contributing factors at the same time as singing about them.

Hard to describe, it’s a kind of indie-folk with a distinctive edge, as she puts her own spin on heartache, heartbreak, and the hopeful hereafter. Epic builds on the engaging simplicity of Because I Was In Love, and takes it to another magical level. The band supports in subtle, but also imaginative ways, and the 3-part backing vocals are, at times, sublime; in “Peace Sign” it’s like the distant voices, fearfully echoing “none shall sleep” in Puccini’s famous aria, Nessun Dorma, were suddenly transported to the studio and asked to emulate an air raid siren in that same style; haunting.

Just as in Because I Was In Love, we get another treat of Sharon Van Etten’s own particular style, and it’s another well worth shouting about.

Sharon Van Etten plays The EARL, Atlanta, November 21.

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