American indie-folk musician Sharon Van Etten has been on the alt. scene for a quite few years now. Here in 2012 she has quietly soared to the heights of contemporaries Bon Iver and St. Vincent, among others, on her third LP Tramp.
A beautiful collection electric-tinged folk songs, the record wreaks of raw and intimate beauty, thanks in part to Van Etten’s evocative voice. Recorded at Aaron Dessner’s (The National) studio, the guitarist also takes up production duties, transferring The National’s subtle drama to wondrous effect.
Tramp’s greatness doesn’t lie solely in painful ballads, with Leonard showcasing an uplifting element reminiscent of Beirut (Zach Condon makes an appearance on We Are Fine). Even ascending into raw, horn-driven epicness on I’m Wrong, the album demands to be listened to as a whole, each song tugging at your heart in a differing manner. “Serpents in my mind, trying to forgive your crimes,” she sings on Serpents as she tries to mend her heartbreak; whether it be despair or hope, the soundscapes sound unique yet somehow familiar.
Sharon Van Etten is no doubt a tranquil force, but she stands out as one of the finest songwriters and musicians in the current indie-folk scene, and the poetic beauty that she conveys on Tramp stands out as the most emotive and singular effort of the past twelve months.