Five Things You Can’t Miss At Bumbershoot: Sharon Van Etten (#2)
Sharon Van Etten
Who: Sharon Van Etten What: an alluring mix of bad-ass and broken When: Monday September 5th at 6:45pm at the Fountain Lawn Why: Sharon’s Responsible for writing my favorite songs of the past two years
Could I move any artist in America to Seattle, I’m pretty sure I’d settle on Sharon Van Etten. There’s a grittiness to her confessional songwriting despite the sweetness of her soft voice, which is mostly missing in Seattle’s vibrant singer-songwriter scene. There’s nothing cutesy about Van Etten’s confessions, they are unresolved wounds, they are problems that have no answers, at least no easy ones and yet listening to her records never feels like you paid for someone else’s therapy. Both her albums (Because I Fell In Love and Epic) are deeply personal, tales of an abusive relationship and the aftermath of leaving it, but it’s easy to feel yourself in her songs and stories.
While the barren orchestration (strumming, basic bass lines, minimalist drums) has little in common with them, Van Etten’s melodic melancholy reminds me most of Carissa’s Wierd. “Ugly but honest” and so incredibly beautiful. While on record it sounds as if Van Etten is breathlessly fragile, live she’s a bit of a bad ass. Perhaps that’s because through her songs and her insistence to sing them, Van Etten has found the happiness so lacking in her recent past. On stage, Van Etten is anything but broken, she seems as if she’s conquered the world, found confidence in her voice and herself, and like she’s having the time of her life, grateful to be singing her sad songs. And watching her sing them, you can’t help but feel the same, to feel happy for these sad songs.
And were I pressed to name my favorite song of all time, this would be a definite contender: