Sharon Van Etten’s 2010 album Epic was an understated masterpiece, with the Brooklynite wrangling mighty emotion from the most spartan of ingredients. It saw her garner a raft of high-profile admirers, including the likes of Bon Iver and The National. Yet with her career blossoming, the opposite was true of her personal life. Finding herself homeless, Van Etten spent 14 months in the studio with The National’s Aaron Dessner, picking over the bones of a shattered relationship. The resulting record, Tramp, reflects the period well – musically, it reaches new heights of richness, urgency and confidence, while lyrically it’s every bit as intense and piercing as the back story would suggest.

The 12 songs capture her in the throes of various long, dark nights of the soul. A slightly disparate collection, perhaps (it was recorded sporadically over those 14 months), but the slight sense of unevenness makes for a rich patchwork of emotional turmoil, with the irritable thrashing of opener ‘Warsaw’ and the unresolved tension of ‘Serpents’ rubbing up alongside the strung-out melancholy of ‘Kevin’s’ and the tentative stoicism of ‘We Are Fine’.

If Epic was a hidden treasure, Tramp feels like Sharon Van Etten’s career-defining album. It’s a wonderful record, a colossal achievement, and features some of the most breathtaking, moving and downright beautiful music you’ll hear all year.Drowned in Sound


Of Montreal Paralytic Stalks
Dr. Dog Be the Void
Deftones Saturday Night Wrist
Battles Dross Glop 1
Fucked Up Year of the Tiger
Plimsouls Beach Town Confidential: Live
Ben Kweller Go Fly a Kite
Thelonious Monk Unique Thelonious Monk
Silverstein Short Songs
A Place to Bury Strangers Onwards to the Wall
The Fray Scars & Stories
Mount Eerie Distorted Cymbals

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