.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/are-we-there-1400181839.jpg Are We There

Sharon Van Etten

Are We There

Jagjaguwar
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
May 23, 2014

There's a great clip on YouTube of singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten playing "People Ain't No Good," by Nick Cave, whom she toured with last year. It's a telling footnote to her magnificent fourth LP, which grows her trademark examinations of romantic decay to cathedral-like scale. Like Cave, her darkness contains multitudes. 

The centerpiece comes early: "Your Love Is Killing Me" is a six-minute dirge opening with funereal organ and a laundry list of violent fantasies that build to guitar crescendos. "Taste blood/Everybody needs to feel," she sings, sounding like Tilda Swinton sipping O-positive in last year's arty vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive. The palette is less guitar-centered than Van Etten's 2012 breakthrough, Tramp. Keyboards and woodwinds shroud processed beats; "Our Love" is nearly an Eighties synth ballad but for lines like "At the bottom of a well/I'm reliving my own hell." The tonal purity of Van Etten's voice, and her remarkable feel for harmonies, remain her signatures. But after all the heart surgery, the closer, "Every Time the Sun Comes Up," pulls back the curtain a bit: "People say I'm a one-hit wonder, but what happens when I have two?" she asks cheekily. Define "hit" as you like; that she's a wonder, there's no doubt.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com