Sharon Van Etten: Epic
When you can count acts such as Bon Iver and The National among your fans, you know that you’re doing something right. Sharon Van Etten’s sophomore effort, charmingly titled Epic, demonstrates traits that make both of the other previously mentioned acts successful: raw and personal lyrics, instrumental flexibility, and an anchor always placed within melody. Epic provides a lush background of drums, piano, lap steel, and other instruments in addition to, yes, acoustic guitar.
Van Etten’s voice is hauntingly beautiful, smooth without having to pull out any flashy tricks. The emotion of her personal experiences comes through in her lyrics about loss, betrayal, tension, and derailed relationships. Heartbreak shouldn’t sound so appealing, but Van Etten makes it easy to smile through the darkness and to channel that negative energy into something worthwhile.
In just seven songs, she’s able to round out an album that’s more accomplished than albums twice as long and with a much broader band. With the scaled-back minimalism of Epic, Van Etten is able to make every word and every note count toward something that she should be proud to have classified under her own name.