Sharon Van Etten blows away crits and fans alike with the release of her fifth studio album Remind Me Tomorrow.
(Sharon Van Etten by Ryan Pfluger)
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF THE SLOW BUILD. WHETHER IT BE WITH MY CAREER, OR MY SONGS, OR LIFE.
– SHARON VAN ETTEN
She isn’t one to sit idly and do nothing. It’s been a hell of a four years for Sharon Van Etten. Since the release of her last album Are We There in 2014, Van Etten has gave birth to her son with partner and collaborator Zeke Hutchins, she guest-starred in the supernatural series The OA, played herself on David Lynch’s reboot of Twin Peaks and wrote her first score for the movie Strange Weather and the closing title song for the show Tig. Amidst all that she studied psychology at Brooklyn College and wrote her latest masterpiece Remind Me Tomorrow which was released late January.
Van Etten was born in Belleville in the US but grew up in Nutley, New Jersey and later moved with her family to Clinton. She moved to Tennessee to attend Middle Tennessee State University and studied recording, but left after a year and eventually moved to New York in 2005. Always growing up singing, she explains her love for music to TimeOut where she states "It’s always been really cathartic. As a kid I didn’t know how to identify it, but it felt really good! My mom says I would walk around singing to myself. And now, even when I write about something heavy and I have to relive it in singing about it all the time, it’s like I’m exorcising the demons. Every time I re-perform a song, I gain some perspective".
Van Etten self-released handmade CDs until 2009, when her debut studio album, Because I Was In Love,was released. That same year she provided vocals for The Antlers standout album Hospice on songs"Kettering", "Thirteen", "Two", and "Shiva".She followed her debut with epic in 2010, produced by The National's Aaron Dessner and recorded in his home studio in Brooklyn. Keeping up her recording relationship with Dessner, Tramp followed in 2012 as a heartfelt album detailing mistrust and isolation in an abusive relationship from that time. Are We There came in 2014, described by Pitchfork as her "most present-tense album yet". In 2015, she worked with The National again, featuring vocals on "Sunshine On My Back" from their Trouble Will Find Me recording sessions. She went onto release the EP I Don't Want to Let You Down which comprised of songs that did not make it onto Are We There.
Scoring her first film in 2016, Van Etten's work was well received. Reviews of the film, Strange Weather by Katherine Dieckmann, said “The authentic-feeling Southern ambience, enhanced by Sharon Van Etten's low-key, country-inflected score, is one of the film's most potent assets" (The Hollywood Reporter, Jon Frosch).
Remind Me Tomorrow comes four years after Are We There, and explores those life moments that get lived "when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. Throughout Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force. With curling low vocals and brave intimacy, Remind Me Tomorrow is an ambitious album that provokes our most sensitive impulses: reckless affections, spirited nurturing, and tender courage". It's emotionally intimate - take her opening song "I Told You Everything", playing out a scene of spilling it all to a loved one when you have nothing left to hide with that person. "Seventeen" is that song that pulls you to look back on being young but tells the tale of looking at someone grow and develop. As for the title, Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten describes “The album title makes me giggle. It occurred to me one night when I, on autopilot, clicked 'remind me tomorrow' on the update window that pops up all the time on my computer. I hadn't updated in months! And it's the simplest of tasks!”
Pitchfork describes her latest release stating “Sharon Van Etten conjures tempests and explores their subsequent calms. It is the peak of her songwriting and her most atmospheric, emotionally piercing album to date”. The New Yorker wrote, “She is an inventive, earnest, and empathetic songwriter, and her discography is full of intimate confessions about heartbreak and what happens to a person when love cracks up. If you are in the midst of a period of grievous romantic devastation—or still recovering from one—Van Etten has at least a dozen songs that will convince you that you’re not alone”.
Late last year, Van Etten Wowed audiences and Online music geeks when she performed LCD Soundsystem’s heartbreaking ode to the city they love "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down” at the BBC Proms season. Go do yourself a favour now and watch it right here.
Remind Me Tomorrow was released in January and you can find out more about the album and Van Etten at her website here.