For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 break-through Tramp, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a manifest hunger to turn another corner. Writing with a free-flowing emotional honesty and vulnerability she creates a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. The result is Are We There, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity and immense breadth.
While most musicians are quite happy to leave production duties to someone else Van Etten knew it was time to make a record entirely on her terms. Although the saying goes “fortune favours the bold”, this boldness had to be tempered and Van Etten found a “kindred spirit” in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on Boardwalk Empire, they rallied around the idea of collaborating in Lerman’s New Jersey studio. His expertise allowed Van Etten the freedom to make Are We There the way she imagined
It is clear from the opening chords of Are We There that we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign Van Etten is 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 Etten’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. The artist who speaks in such a voice is urging us to do something, to take hold and to go deeper.