Are We There
Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten’s latest solo album retains elements of her previous work: the immediacy of her lyrics and her songs’ beautiful musical atmospheres. As on Tramp, one continues to hear Van Etten’s vocal range expand – by now able to encompass keening soprano lines as well as a growling contralto a la Stevie Nicks. Some of the best moments on Are We There combine both vocal approaches, as on the multi-layered “Taking My Chances.” Her more confessional and emotionally stark selections, such as “Your Love is Killing Me” are compelling as well; here we are relieved by a swelling build to the chorus that offsets that stark ambiance of the verse. One is most impressed with the range of material on display here. So often, singer-songwriter albums can get stuck in a particular vibe or groove that leaves them monochromatic. Not so with Are We There: Van Etten has crafted her most varied, and most compelling, album to date. Recommended.