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COVERED IN DUST

Singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten opens up about the methods behind her brutally honest new release, Are We There WORDS ALEXANDER TIRPACK PHOTOGRAPHS PETER ASH LEE STYLING M O S E STM

“Performing is usually pretty cathartic for me,” Sharon Van Etten ex-

plained while on the road somewhere outside of Fargo. “Even though the songs are pretty heavy, I like talking to the audience and making jokes and stuff. I feel like it balances out a little bit.” For those familiar with Van Etten’s music, this sentiment might come off as strange—her songs are deeply personal and almost overwhelmingly melancholic. With her latest release, Are We There, Van Etten takes her fans further into her ongoing romantic hardships, but with a tighter and more focused execution. It has all the trappings of a great album, including production by industry heavyweight Stewart Lerman, praise from the most revered reviewers (The New Yorker called it “astonishing,” and it’s on Rolling Stone’s “Top 45 Albums of 2014”), and measurable growth from an artist whose debut album (2009’s Because I Was In Love) was already well-received by fickle indie kids all-too-eager to roast anything perceived as inauthentic. For Van Etten these beaming accolades are, talent notwithstanding, due in large part to her fans. Without the encouragement of

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friends and fans at open mic’s in New Jersey nearly a decade ago, she would not have pursued professional musicianship. It was during this budding performances that Van Etten realized other people could relate to her lyrics, and that connection bred ambition. “I was doing it for myself but I didn’t really realize the weight of it,” Van Etten said. “I went from writing for myself, to other people connecting and encouraging me to put it out there. Basically, writing is my therapy session, and it helped develop this weird path that I’m on.” That “weird path” has followed a trajectory of four fulllength releases, and has stuck to the same general narrative: Sharon Van Etten is sad. Like her previous albums, Are We There is a testament to Van Etten’s struggles with love, her lyrics delivered with gut-wrenching honesty, her emotions creeping and burning over drawn-out syllables like an early-morning shot of top-shelf whiskey. As fans, we are privy to Van Etten’s sadness because she wears it on her sleeve, but also because she knows how to pluck the listener’s emotional heartstrings. The listener grasps Van Etten, but also dredges up and draws out personal

Relapse Magazine - Fall 2014  

The Current State of Mind: For this issue, we explore and celebrate the most up-to-date viewpoints in New York City fashion and culture.

Relapse Magazine - Fall 2014  

The Current State of Mind: For this issue, we explore and celebrate the most up-to-date viewpoints in New York City fashion and culture.

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