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Monday, 21 April 2014

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Another Christmas present from last year and the least instantly accessible of the CD’s I received that people thought I’d like. Sharon Van Etten is folky singer songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York and makes musical ditties in a similar vein to PJ Harvey and Feist. As such it scores highly on the dirge continuum and suffers from a lack of originality, positivity or any ‘get up a go’, but this is a more subtle album than mere standard dirge.

There are some signs of real song writing talent hidden deep within some of the songs. The lyrics are emotive and universal, there are occasional glimpses of hum-ability and the whole thing sounds more subtly intelligent than it does enjoyable. The chugging pace doesn't
help matters and Sharon may be better advised to throw in the odd upbeat number and a couple of Scandinavian style stark slowies to alleviate the monotony.

The songs are much of a muchness but ‘Serpents’ is the most upbeat and passionate and illustrates Sharon’s potential to go beyond the standard female singer/songwriter template. ‘Warsaw’ is likewise fairly agreeable, but after that I’m struggling to swim through the gallons of dirge. Why is there this obsession to sound like the Queen of Dirge, Polly Jean? There are so many great female folk singers to use as inspiration why go for the most annoying?

I know lots of people rate her, but Sharon’s definitely not doing it for me. She needs to up the tempo, add some positivity and develop a sense of humour if I’m going to purchase another album. Shame on you PJ Harvey! You have lured another one to the dark, dirgy side.


  1. Agree it's quite bleak, and that's why it's the kind of album I listen to in pieces rather than all at once. Serpents is a good track. I also liked Give Out, Ask, and Joke or a Lie
    Her best song for me is Don't Do It ( from her 2010 LP "Epic") , which I find incredibly powerful,still gives me chills.

  2. I don't get the fascination with PJ Harvey either. She's done about five good songs in total. The rest are pure dirge.