Album of the Week: Sharon Van Etten | epic Ten

I’ve been listening to and loving Sharon Van Etten’s music since I first heard Tramp in 2012. I’ve been following each new release with relish, while digging into her back catalog with equal delight.

Add in a couple of live performances along the way, both as headliner and opener for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds where she also joined the Cave choir, and you’ve found a full fledged fan. [fotnote 1]

epic Ten, recently released on Ba Da Bing Records on April 16, is a double LP celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Van Etten’s album epic. In addition to the original seven songs, there are cover versions of the complete album by Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams, Courtney Barnett ft. Vagabon, Big Red Machine, IDLES, Shamir, and St. Panther. If you said to yourself, “Wow”, so did I when I first read that list.

From the liner notes by Adrianne Lenker:

Sharon’s words, melodies, and rawness, became my words, melodies, and rawness, and permeated the sea of moments I was living in, making them more bearable […] Her way of writing changed my way of thinking.

To my mind, influence acknowledged is a thing of beauty and on epic Ten its working both ways — some of Van Etten’s influences lending their voices and versions to Sharon’s words along with the influenced.

Revisiting the originals was pure delight as epic Ten remains a powerful set of moving, if difficult, stories to hear. Van Etten, the survivor, shares vulnerability, pain, and hope and the music backs these fluctuations and fights perfectly. The covers offer lovely lessons in interpretation, lending theses songs and stories new voice. Lucinda Williams absolutely crushes “Save Yourself” with her slow lilting drawl, Fiona Apple’s “Love More” adds new dimension, depth, and redemption to Van Etten’s painful realizations put to words — Tied to my bed , I was younger then, I had nothing to spend, But time on you, But it made me love, It made me love, It made me love more — and I’m even all in for IDLES raucous and menacing “Peace Signs” romp.

epic Ten is a ride worth taking again and anew.

  1. I admit that the word fan is beginning to feel like an uncomfortable fit seeing as I’m almost done with my 50s, but the hell with it –  I’ve never been of fan of giving up on fun.