If you’ve ever read anything that I’ve written or if you’ve ever spoken with me in person about music, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard or read me go on and on about Sharon Van Etten. One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was about her. I wrote about how her Tramp was “bar none, my sentimental favorite”, but was my #3 album of 2012. My experience of seeing her live in 2012 was one of my favorite shows ever. I’m a bit of a fan.
Sharon Van Etten has a new album Are We There, which hits shelves next Tuesday. While I don’t think I love it as much as I love Tramp, it’s quite good. And I think I like it more every time I listen to it. If you pre-order a physical copy, you’ll get some download codes, including one for the full album. This isn’t about the new album, though.
A couple of weeks ago, the inimitable Van Etten participated in The AV Club‘s ongoing “Pioneering” series, in which current indie rockers pay homage to the iconic mainstream musicians who influenced them. She chose The Boss. She said that most people associate Springsteen with his big anthemic hits, and they either don’t know about or they forget about the slower ballads.
Full disclosure. I’m not a Springsteen fan. I never have been. I’m the guy that she’s talking about. I only know the big hits. Because of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2006 Stanley Cup win, I have a sentimental attachment to his song “The Rising”, but I don’t know the ballads. I’ve never heard the original version of this song, and I’m not even sure that I want to. I’m afraid that hearing the original would ruin my appreciation for how amazing this is when played by SVE.
Everybody knows that Bruce Springsteen is an excellent songwriter, and these are his words, but there’s something extra special about hearing a woman sing these lines:
I get shivers down my spine and all I want to do is hold you tight
I swear I’d drive all night again just to buy you some shoes
I just wanna sleep tonight again in your arms.
It’s enough to melt even the iciest of hearts.
Every time I read or see an interview with Sharon Van Etten, I think that she’s reached the plateau of her charm level. I think “there’s no way she could be any more charming”. When I saw her perform, I stuck around afterwards just so I could say hello to her. After she signed a bunch of things for a line of other drooling fans, I was still impressed by her charm. She seemed genuinely happy to meet all those people, and I thought it was completely adorable that she introduced herself as I congratulated her for a well-played show. In addition to signing the CD booklet, she offered to draw a very quick portrait of me. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and it’s what I use as my Facebook and Twitter profile pictures. That was where I was certain that the charm bar couldn’t possibly be raised.
Somehow, she’s done it. Not just with this new album. But specifically with this. I’m completely blown away by this. And I don’t want to ever see or hear how Bruce did the original song.
My heart is a little bit broken that she won’t be coming around here during her summer tour of North America. Maybe in the autumn, though.
The new record officially comes out on May 27, but you’ll get an instantly redeemable download code if you preorder the album now from Jagjaguwar. Do it now.