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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small Songs From A Cold Dark Place, 29 July 2010
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Because I Was In Love (Audio CD)
Sharon Van Etten comes from Brooklyn. She writes and sings songs.
She doesn't have the greatest voice on the planet and her guitar
playing is rudimentary (sometimes, truth-be-told, she hasn't even
taken the time to tune it properly!) but despite these self-evident
shortcomings there is something strangely captivating about her
album 'Because I Was In Love'. If you're after a jolly time you
will not find it here but with a little patience and an open mind
you may find much to enjoy in these stripped-down, melancholy
yet strangely compelling compositions.

Ms Van Etten has a folksy muse which is sensitively captured in
the studio with the help of Esper's Gregg Weeks behind the console.

There are eleven songs in the collection and they pretty much
adhere to the same formula throughout : strummed acoustic guitar
accompaniment, mournful central vocal line and simple two (or
occasionally three) part harmonies. Additional padding from electric
guitar, keyboards and rudimentary percussion crop up unobtrusively
from time to time but are never allowed to take centre stage.
This is a one woman show.

Her MySpace page lists a veritable hoard of influences. Her own
voice, however, possesses a curiously disctinctive quality all
its own. It has a hollow sound and her tendency to slide from
one note to the next (particularly evident on 'Tornado') can be
disconcertingly affecting at times, despite the almost total
absence of dynamic variation in her tone and delivery.

I particularly enjoyed the gently lilting 'Have You Seen' which
sports one of the strongest melodies on the album (The Roches
late 70's and early 80's work came to mind more than once).

'It's Not Like' is about as frisky as things get, which is not
to say that there's a party going on but Ms Van Etten seems to
be reaching out to us a tad more rather than just reaching in.

Interiority is her strength however. Not since Polly Harvey's
2007 album 'White Chalk' have I heard anything quite so chilling.

Final track 'Holding Out' is an intensely sustained, sublimely
desolate composition which allows not a moment's respite from
its creator's desperately plaintive and painful reflections.
(The musical equivalent of having your heart squeezed in a vice!)

Single-minded, uncompromising and utterly contrary, 'Because I Was In
Love' is unlikely to make a big dent in the listening world but will repay
the attention of those brave enough to submit to its maudlin charms.
Samuel Beckett would very probably have loved it!

Recommended.
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Because I Was In Love
Because I Was In Love by Sharon Van Etten (Audio CD - 2009)
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