This record is a later-comer, as I just picked it up after seeing Sharon play at Pianos last night. All signs indicated that she would be wonderful, from her having been championed on one of my favorite New York music sites, NYC Taper, to having toured earlier this year with Meg Baird, to having signed with Drag City imprint Language of Stone for a forthcoming album, Because I Was In Love, in April. Plus, according to her Myspace page, she lives in my neighborhood.
The disc probably won’t make it into my Top 25, as its homemade production is wanting (some loud hiss and stereo imbalance on some tracks), but BOY can she write and sing. Her crystalline tone and subtly soulful Tennessee twang bring to mind Moon Pix-era Cat Power. But Van Etten leans slightly more toward more traditional folk music from the other site of the pond (Sandy Denny, Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins) and, like Meg Baird, finds an excellent equilibrium of British, Appalachian and more modern influences.
And while I’m talking about equilibrium, I think that is really a very fitting description for Sharon Van Etten. She’s got unflinchable poise onstage, but at the same time comes across as open and humble. Her songs have that same quality, never approaching the territory of being a whine or vendetta, but gracefully sketching out portraits of love and loss, sadness and hope. I can’t wait to see what she does with her first proper full length.
You can download a live show by Sharon Van Etten from NYC Taper here.
Sharon’s “It’s Not Like” is on my December Mix.