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Sharon Van Etten – Your Love Is Killing Me

Once in a while, a piece of music comes at me with so much force that it leaves me completely speechless. Such was the case yesterday when Sharon Van Etten premiered “Your Love Is Killing”, the third track to be lifted of her upcoming album Are We There.  I don’t even know how to begin expressing just how dam good I think this new song of hers is. Obviously, I’ve swallowed everything she has teased off Are We There, but there is an added element of intensity and force to “Your Love Is Killing Me” that I think surpasses everything she’s done up to this point. And then there’s that unbelievable and very singular voice of hers. She delivers the words with such power that the beautiful instruments surrounding her pales in comparison. It’s impossible not to pay attention to her vocals, and just as on “Every Time The Sun Comes Up”, her words jump right at you; “Break my leg so I can’t walk to you/ Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you/ Burn my skin so I can’t feel you/ Stab my eyes so I can’t see.” It’s a dark, bleak comedy of a love song, filled with violent imagery that take sharp and repeated stabs at your heart. By the time she reaches the magnificent chorus and trembles “Your love is killing me”, you can almost feel her bleeding heart pumping right out of the strength of her voice. All this while the beautiful droning instrumentation slowly builds into knee-trembling euphoria.

During a year, there comes only about a handful of moments like this. And if I already stated “Taking Chances” as a sort of career-defining moment for Van Etten, then I don’t know what the heck to call this. Maybe it’s enough to write what I truly feel; that  a more memorable and impressive moment in music can not be found so far this year.

Are We There I out May 27 via Jagjaguwar.

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Sharon Van Etten – Every Time The Sun Comes Up

Maybe I’m imagining things, but I feel there is a level of clarity and strength in Sharon Van Etten’s voice on here new singles “Taking Chances” and now on “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” that I haven’t heard from her before. It could be the enhanced, unclouded production or just the fact that Van Etten has grown as a vocalist since her wonderful last album Tramp, but witch ever way, I find a lot of pleasure in her new songs. Her waltz-y Nasville bent croons on “Every Time The Sun Comes” continues to shy away from the fleshier, riffier tracks of Tramp, while it also takes a firmer grip on the more tender side of her music compared to the – relatively speaking – less pastoral and r&B iched “Taking Chances”.

“Every Time The Sun Comes Up” is – especially during the second verse – full of endearing and wonderful badass lines like; “People say I’m a one hit wonder / but what happens when I have two” and “I washed your dishes / but I shit in your bathroom”. This is Van Etten throwing curveballs at us and constantly revealing new sides to her already nimble craft. Her new album is titled Are We There and is out May 27 via Jagjaguwar.

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Sharon Van Etten – Taking Chances

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While this blog held a two week hiatus due to some well-deserved vacation time, one of my favorite songstresses of the last few years, Sharon Van Etten, released her astonishing new single “Taking Chances”. Staying true to its title, the track moves away from the garage rock instilled Tramp and its equally majestic predecessor Epic, towards an almost R&B itched sound.

So while her new label mate Angel Olsen on her new album moved  in a direction slightly similar to Van Etten’s past ventures, it seems that we won’t hear much fleshy guitar rock on Are We There, Van Etten’s forthcoming record. By her own account, the new album will be “pretty soulful R&B” with a comparatively darker, moodier feel. And while “Taking Chances” definitely feels like a new direction, especially when considering the instrumentation that perhaps is more analogous to Cat Power’s latest albums or even Beach House than her past self, the chorus still carry a sizable portion of fuzzy guitars. But the biggest change on “Taking Chances” is undeniable the overall instrumental complexity and surprising layering, yet all this is overshadowed by Van Etten’s emotionally direct and melodiously well-balanced songwriting that feels as much a career-defining moment as “Serpents” did.

Are We There is out May 27 via Jagjaguwar.

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Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten

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Angel Olsen first offering since signing to Jagjaguwar completely caught me off-guard. Much like her label-mate Sharon Van Etten, Olsen started out as an intimate folk singer, using sparsely arranged acoustics as a backing for her beautiful siren-like vocals, but “Forgiven/Forgotten” is anything but serene. Instead what she offers is a relentless adrenaline rush of punkish guitars and orderly chaos. Over the course of the tracks two short minutes, Olsen shows the intensity and range of her voice while rushing headlong towards its inevitable conclusion; “I don’t know anything! But I love you”.

While I highly regard last year’s breathtakingly gorgeous Half Way Home, I can only say that I more than welcome this new change of pace. Olsen’s new album is titled Burn Your Fire For No Witness and is due out February 18.