My Albums of 2012 – No. 6: Sharon Van Etten ‘Tramp’

sharon van etten

One of indie’s best kept secrets for a couple of years now (check out this stunning track from 2010’s ‘Epic’), Sharon Van Etten’s latest album finally saw her take a bit of the spotlight.

The wintry ‘Serpents’ is aptly named, given the serpentine nature of her songs. They aren’t full-blooded attacks, but sneak up on you unawares. In interviews, Van Etten has alluded to having previously been in an abusive relationship and behind all of the side-winding lies a devastating perspicacity. These are songs that deal in difficult, complex emotions. The album is full of heart-rending lines such as “you’re the reason why I’ll move to the city, or why I’ll need to leave” and “I want to be over you”.

Behind the damage, however, lies a strength and an vituperative anger. You can hear it in the pounding of ‘Serpents’ and in the robust build-up of ‘All I Can’. These are beautiful songs, fragile songs, angry songs, but above all they are human songs. It’s a stunning album that gets better with each listen.

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