The list of contributors on Sharon Van Etten’s 2014 LP 'Are We There’ reads as pretty much a 'who's who' of contemporaneous alt-rock talent. Torres, Brodericks Heather Woods and Peter, The War On DrugsDave Hartley and Adam Granduciel and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiberg are but a few of those to pitch in here. Then there's Van Etten herself, an artist who had really recognised her own power on 'Are We There’s predecessor ‘Tramp’ and harnessed it once more here. No wonder that the resulting an album, a determined and often beautiful listen that shares space with Angel Olsen and Big Thief, is regarded as one of Van Etten’s best.

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Are We There by Sharon Van Etten
1 review. Write a review for us »
9/10 Mike 23 May 2014
Sharon Van Etten's last album 'Tramp' turned a lot of heads, and the live shows shortly thereafter confirmed that this lady is the real deal, so the expectations are high for 'Are We There', and while I'll have to give it a few more listens to properly digest it, my initial response is that she's nailed it. It's an interesting formula she's peddling, kind of a mixture of the kind of slick and sultry indie pop that's attempted by Lana Del Rey, but tempered with the spooky, smoky folkisms of Laura Gibson and the intimacy and emotional rawness of PJ Harvey.   Hers are songs which soar and swoop and whisper in a timeless, instantly familiar way, but her smooth purring croon and the gentle widescreen production belies the darkness and intensity of the lyrical content. "We've been through better days and you've tasted my pain./Break my legs so I can't walk to you/Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you/Burn my skin so I can't feel you/Stab my eyes so I can't see you", she croons in 'Your Love Is Killing Me'.   There's something comforting and empathetic about it though, that same sad camaraderie the late Jason Molina's timeless-sounding misery had, reassuring you that we're all lost and that's normal, and the album ends on a strangely light note, with a little studio snippet which kind of breaks the fourth wall after all the finely balanced grandeur that's preceded it, with Van Etten breaking character, laughing and singing the words "maybe something will change". It's a bigger and bolder album than the last one, but still with the same rawness and vulnerability that made 'Tramp' so compelling, and her voice is simply a lovely thing to listen to.



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