Album Review: Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Sharon Van Etten was abused and stopped from playing music by her ex-boyfriend. Her third album, ‘Tramp’, shows her recovery from this dark history. Produced by Aaron Dessner from The National, it is an emotional portrayal of her past and raw feelings.

Although the opening song, ‘Warsaw’, summarises the album with the line “I want to be over you”, it is the awe-inspiring single ‘Serpents’ that tells the true story: “You enjoy sucking on dreams / so I will fall asleep with someone other than you”. The single also starts to show forgiveness with the lines: “Serpents in my mind trying to forgive your crimes / everyone changes in time”. For most of the album, the music is just a simple mix of a guitar and drums, yet Van Etten’s vocals bring an incredible energy to the songs, resulting in something of beauty and depth.

‘Tramp’ features some guest appearances in the songs, such as harmonies with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. The most notable of these supporting roles is in the optimistic ‘We Are Fine’, in which Zachary Condon of Beirut sings a whole verse by himself, as well as providing backing vocals. It is a cheerful song, even though it is about helping a friend through a panic attack, and it shows a feeling of hope for the future.

The name ‘Tramp’ brings words to mind that are complete opposites to those that could be used to describe the album. It is an epic ending to a chapter in life, as well as the exciting beginning to a new, brighter one. Sharon Van Etten has skilfully crafted an album that contains subtle emotion and tremendous power; it is a creation of near perfection.

9/10

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