Monday, April 2, 2012

What We're Listening to: Tramp by Sharon Van Etten

Tramp by Sharon Van Etten
Find it in the catalog!

Tramp is the third album by New York City-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten.  I really enjoyed her last album, Epic (especially the closing track, "Love More").  However, Tramp sounded even more promising because it was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National (one of my favorite bands) and had a stellar guest list including Zach Condon of Beirut, Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, and Matt Barrick of the Walkmen among others.

Van Etten could rival Adele for writing songs about love gone wrong.  On her last two albums, many songs revolved around a break up with a particularly nasty boyfriend.  While I'm a break-up song connoisseur, I was happy to see that she had mostly moved on from that on Tramp. There is still some romantic angst (including the awesome break-up anthem "Serpents"), but Van Etten seems more focused on personal growth and her own failings this time out.

Van Etten's lyrics really add a lot to the album.  She's good a conveying a lot simply.  For instance, one of my favorite lines on the album is from "Give Out:" "You're the reason why I'll move to the city/ Or why I'll need to leave."  Tramp has a somber and emotional vibe; it's a great album to listen to on a gloomy day.

Stand out tracks:  I love "Serpents", which rocks surprisingly hard for an otherwise mellow album.  "Give Out" is a beautiful but bittersweet track about starting a new relationship after being hurt.  "I'm Wrong" is a builder and is oddly inspirational for a song pleading for self-delusion.  The closer "Joke or a Lie" is a lovely blend of vulnerability and melancholy.