Sharon Van Etten Tramp on LP
The shimmering sound of Tramp both defies and illuminates the unsteadiness of a life in flux. During the 14 months of scattered recording sessions, Sharon Van Etten was without a home, crashing with friends and spreading out her possessions between various locations. The only constant during this time was when Van Etten returned to the garage studio of The National’s Aaron Dessner.
How much more incredible then that Tramp sounds so profoundly effortless and singular-minded. Given the space to experiment, Van Etten pushed herself deeper than ever before, testing different approaches and rejecting many. Van Etten’s records have been subtle and powerful, at once heartbreaking, luminous, intricate and beautiful. Now lush and triumphant, this is a fresh vision, and Van Etten has realized it with the same grace that made her first two releases so enduring.
Van Etten’s debut, Because I Was In Love, was a sparse set of solo songs, all anchored by her instantly unmistakable voice. The intricate, understated record covered so much emotional ground within its 33 minutes, you couldn't possibly absorb it all at once, nor stay too long in one place along its journey. The following year, Van Etten added a full band to her music. Fans quickly picked favorites, then found their choices changing, often more than once.
An early fan of Van Etten, Dessner performed epic closer “Love More” with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. When Van Etten found out, she contacted him, and almost immediately collaborative plans were made. Dessner had just completed work on his studio, and offered up his new space, as well as his insight as a savvy producer. But with both artists’ near-nonstop touring schedule, recording days had to be spread out, a few days here, a couple weeks there, and a lot of floating and flying in between.
The resulting album is an assured and strident one, and Tramp showcases an artist in control of her powers, incorporating vivid arrangements and instrumentation into the songwriting. It is a startling collection, filled with as much defiant rock (the precise venom of “Serpents”), as pious, minimal beauty (the breathtaking “Kevin’s” and “Joke or a Lie”). There are declarative hymns (in the earnest solemnity of “All I Can”), and remarkably sultry numbers (as in “Magic Chords”). Tramp features many stupendous guests, as well, including Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, Julianna Barwick, Beirut’s Zach Condon, and Dessner himself.
Sharon Van Etten Tramp Track Listing:
2. Give Out
6. In Line
7. All I Can
8. We Are Fine
9. Magic Chords
11. I'm Wrong
12. Joke or a Lie