“Sitting at the bar I told you everything / You said, ‘Holy shit, you almost died.’”
So begins the latest release from Sharon Van Etten. It’s a dramatic piece of dialogue that immediately lets the listener know two things about her fifth album: firstly, she is no longer interested in talking about herself and so we shouldn’t expect any of the cathartic self-reflection of ‘Are We There’ and ‘Tramp’ here, and, secondly, there’s no need to worry about this, because she can spin a hell of a yarn.
‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ is full of visually evocative snippets like this (‘Malibu’s “We held hands as we passed the truck / Just a couple of dudes who don’t give a fuck” is particularly memorable), demonstrating Van Etten’s ability to embrace change as she leaves the beaten track, veering away from confessional songwriting to explore more narrative paths.
This newfound adventurousness bleeds into the album’s wider sound, most obviously in her willingness to dabble with some pretty prominent electronics. While the opening moog throbs of ‘No-One’s Easy To Love’ and ‘Comeback Kid’ are initially distracting coming from an artist once known for her sparse compositions, they quickly blend in to become just another part of the atmospheric scenery that add colour to her widescreen laments.
Words: Josh Gray
Dig it? Dig deeper: Wye Oak, Emma Ruth Rundle, Angel Olson
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