Since the release of 2008â€™s Because I Was in Love, Sharon Van Ettenâ€™s career has gone from strength to strength. From living in New Jersey and gigging around New York City, sheâ€™s found herself working with and being covered by top acts like The National, Bon Iver, and Beirut.
After hearing The National and Justin Vernonâ€™s cover of her song â€œLove More,â€ Van Etten contacted Aaron Dessner, a member of the former act. With Dessnerâ€™s garage studio as the headquarters for Van Ettenâ€™s next body of work, the two collaborated to create Tramp, a beautiful record that is much more confident than its soft-spoken predecessors. After the brevity of 2010â€™s epic, coming in around half an hour, itâ€™s a blessing to get so much more from Van Etten so soon.
Van Etten has shrugged the â€œfolkâ€ label to come into her own as an amorphous, talented singer/songwriter. Â Tracks like â€œWarsawâ€ and â€œSerpentsâ€ are rockers that take a page from Eisley, while â€œMagic Chordsâ€ has the smoothness of a jazz lounge tune. Swirling instrumentation on â€œIâ€™m Wrongâ€ complements the hypnotic nature of Van Ettenâ€™s voice.
Indeed, much of the power of Tramp lies in the singerâ€™s voice. We feel her sadness or her hope depending on the octave, and songs like â€œIn Lineâ€ may contain much repetition, but do not suffer because her tones can convey so much depending on delivery. Â Guest turns from Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, Doveman, Zach Condon of Beirut, Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, and Julianna Barwick make Tramp a must-buy for 2012.