Sharon Van Etten is now a few years removed from being the Brooklyn ‘it girl’, palling around with the likes of The National (QRO spotlight on), being congratulated on selling out her local show by BrooklynVegan, getting a birthday cupcake at a show (QRO photos), recruiting stars aplenty for a big hometown performance (QRO photos). She can’t rely on her friends & friendly demeanor to stay relevant in today’s over-stuffed music scene. Thankfully, SVE ups her game by growing into something more on Are We There.
Van Etten began her musical career as one of the many, many alt-folk songstresses out there with 2007’s Because I Was In Love (QRO review), and then had help standing out from the pack with 2010’s Epic (QRO review) and 2012’s Tramp (QRO review). There are still guest stars on Are We There, but this time ‘round it’s she who’s helping them, fame-wise. Meanwhile, Van Etten has grown from simple songstress into almost a diva, if one who can do beauty (“You Know Me Well”) or whiskey-soaked loss (“Tarifa”). There are also moments of smooth sounds, even sly (“Taking Chances”), but also decided alt-country loss (closer/stand-out/sum-up “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”).
Sharon Van Etten easily could have been one of the buzzed-about flameouts that you only heard of because of who she’s friends with (we’ll let you insert your own example). But she was building on a foundation, and now has more than enough to build on her own.