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Are We There

4.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 May 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • ASIN: B00INXSJ22
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,913 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 breakthrough ‘Tramp’, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a hunger to turn another corner and to delve deeper, writing from a place of honesty and vulnerability to create a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. Now, the result is ‘Are We There’, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity, and immense breadth.

For this album, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on ‘Boardwalk Empire’, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of making a record together in Lerman’s studio in New Jersey. Lerman’s studio expertise gave Van Etten the freedom to make ‘Are We There’ the way she imagined. Van Etten also enlisted the individual talents of her band, consisting of Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins and brought in friends Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War On Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C Morris and Mickey Freeze.

It is clear from the opening chords in the first song ‘Afraid Of Nothing’ that we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign of Van Etten in full stride, writing, producing and performing from a place that seems almost mythical, were it not so touchable and real. Always direct, and never shying away even from the most personally painful narratives, Van Ettten’s songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. She sings of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence.

“Her voice is breathtaking throughout the record, altering to inhabit every emotional extreme.” - Uncut (9/10), “She seems to set her voice no boundaries” - Mojo (4 stars), “Van Etten goes several layers deeper, and faster, than most songwriters. ‘Are We There’ is the kind of album that many people have been trying to make for years and only a dozen or so have pulled off; words, voice, and heartbreak.” - The New Yorker.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
It was becoming obvious around the time of Sharon Van Etten's 2010 release "Epic" that we were witnessing the journey of a singer songwriter from obscurity to major league contender. Van Etten's last album "Tramp" verged on magical with songs to tussle with, live with and eventually fall in love with. She has never been shy to share her deepest emotions but on this new album she lays herself bare. "Are we there" represents a troubling emotional crash put to music. It is the story of a relationship wrecked by the demands of career and dark hints of abuse. Instrumentally the album is her most piano based yet and whilst the songs are about hurt they are nevertheless accessible and uniformly great. The opener "Afraid of Nothing" starts with a simple piano note, a lightly chiming guitar and a brilliant vocal from Van Etten. It is great song and draws you back time after time but better is to follow. The real killer track on the album is "Your Love is killing me" a staggering six minutes plus of musical catharsis. It commences with a funereal organ and oozes raw power from the off and what about those lyrics? They are littered with anger and regret not least "When I let you walk over me/You tell me that you like it/You love me as you torture me/You told me that you liked it". Not since "Blood on the Tracks" has a wrecked relationship been charted with such devastating force.

The fireworks, which follow, are not as explosive but there is great music to be discovered. The gentle ballad "Our Love" is almost sweet by comparison, yet even here she confesses that "I'm reliving my own hell / someone throws the ladder down / Still don't know what I have found in our love.
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 29 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
This is a very fine album which has real musical and lyrical intelligence and genuine feeling underlying it. Sharon van Etten has a powerful, haunting voice and uses some rather unconventional harmonies which have great dramatic effect. Coupled with her original chord structures and melodic invention, it all goes to make songs which are distinctive and very powerful. They're not always an easy, relaxing listen by any means but they draw you in and often have a powerful emotional impact. There is also true beauty here in places - the lovely falling cadences in I Know and the beautiful Our Love, for example. There is more to be heard here every time I listen to it.

The whole album is a bit of real class, I think, and has the lasting quality of beauty built on noble bones. Red on Black has already written an excellent review here and has said much of what I was going to say, so I won't bang on needlessly. I suggest you rear RoB's review, listen to a few samples and snap this up. It is something quite special.
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Format: Audio CD
Sharon Van Etten is something of a rarity; a singer-songwriter that has somehow avoided the trappings that title brings. Her quiet vulnerability coupled with an underlying confidence gives her music a believably balanced quality. A hauntingly sweet voice, patiently wading through each song echoes the likes of Aimee Mann and Lana Del Rey, yet her identity remains untouched, her unwavering voice instantly recognizable. Garnering a significant following and enjoying the likes of Bon Iver and The National covering her seminal single “Love More”, Van Etten’s fourth album Are We There, picks up where the brooding Tramp left off, yet it seems she’s once again reinvigorated her sound.

“Afraid of Nothing” acts as the perfect slow burner to begin Are We There, the simplicity of sauntering piano and guitar allowing Van Etten’s vocals to revel in the emptiness of it all. Her vocals soon become ethereal, a languid 6/4 groove patiently leads the song to a humble close, the album suitably introduced. It’s a sound we’ve come to love and associate with Van Etten, and it’s one that is quickly forgotten on her single “Taking Chances”.

Methodical drum machines, distant humming synth and faraway guitar pave the way for some of Etten’s most memorable melodies, the chorus injected with a beguiling indie charm. It’s a real departure from what we’re used to, yet it’s still intrinsically everything Etten has ever been, just in a different wrapper. Surprisingly though, it’s the only song of its kind on the record, the remaining forty-minutes of the album following on from where “Afraid of Nothing” left off. Whilst those forty-minutes take us back into a world only Etten could create, there’s still a distant melody floating above the clouds, one that lingers in the air, begging to be heard once more.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A bit like KD Laing with angst and a dark side - strong stormy songs just the right side of tuneful. Her voice has that deep moody sound and is not fey or girly. And the music really grows on you - subtle and interesting lyrics and tunes - a winner.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One of the albums of 2014 it's true, but that year and 2015 were the best for many years with Sleaford Mods' Divide and Exit, John Grant's Grey Tickles Black Pressure, Courtney Barnett's Sometimes I Sit and Think And Sometimes I Just Sit, Ezra Furman's Perpetual Motion, Scott Walker's Soused, La Roux's Trouble in Paradise, Pere Ubu's Carnival of Souls, Black Lips' Arabia Mountain and David Corley's Available Light.

Sharon van Etten's voice, intent manifest in that voice and individual style are extraordinary, but she slurs the words so that much is unclear and when deciphered is weak. For the great writer of her age (and younger), Courtney Barnett (a fan of van Etten's) is the great one, with drawled words that are nevertheless purposely and with reason clear where van Etten's are the opposite. Pedestrian at Best is a great example or Depreston, or any of the other tracks on Barnett's album really, whereas this element is the hole in van Etten's album.
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