Tramp

Tramp

by Sharon Van Etten
     
 

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When Sharon Van Etten issued the ironically titled seven-song Epic in 2009, it stood in stark contrast to her 2007 debut, Because I Was in Love. On the latter record, she employed a full-on rock band, her songwriting gained a more defined precision, and her singing voice -- even at its mostSee more details below

Overview

When Sharon Van Etten issued the ironically titled seven-song Epic in 2009, it stood in stark contrast to her 2007 debut, Because I Was in Love. On the latter record, she employed a full-on rock band, her songwriting gained a more defined precision, and her singing voice -- even at its most vulnerable -- seemed to speak with a confidence that didn't seem to need any frame of reference other than its own. Tramp is titled for the period of post-relationship uncertainty and the period of homelessness Van Etten experienced during its 14-month recording process. Produced by the National's Aaron Dessner, who puts the songwriter's fine singing voice front and center, it features guest appearances by Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, and more. "Warsaw," with its jagged electric guitars, bass, halting keyboards, and primitive, tom-tom heavy drums, is a shambling illustration of what's to be found here. Van Etten's protagonist is still vulnerable, but she wills herself toward a horizon past it. Likewise, the set's first single "Serpents," with its rumbling guitars and cracking snares, frankly discusses being physically and emotionally abused, but it comes from the other side, her protagonist is out of the situation, refusing to be a victim. Jenn Wassner's backing vocals in every line transform this into an anthem of survival. Not everything here falls down the rock & roll rabbit hole, however. Acoustically driven ballads such as "Kevin's," "All I Can," and "Leonard" highlight her subject's character defects and vulnerabilities as well as those of her significant other's. Van Etten's lyrics accuse as much as they confess and empathize. More often than not, her subject is the one who leaves, rather than the one left; the reasons are myriad: betrayal, co-dependency, a willingness toward an emotional freedom that allows love itself to dictate what it expects. There is great beauty on Tramp, especially in its last third; from the jaunty, acoustic stroll of "We Are Fine" to the multi-textured, nearly psych-pop of "I'm Wrong," to the airy, drifting closer "Joke or a Lie." For all this, Van Etten skirts the edges of giving us a great album without actually delivering one. Perhaps it's the exhaustive, confessional nature of its songs, its reliance on three basic melodic ideas, or even its length. Whatever the reason(s), Tramp doesn't quite fulfill its considerable promise. But this isn't a criticism; Van Etten is still a young, developing songwriter who gets more sophisticated with each album. As such, Tramp offers plenty for listeners to enjoy as she goes.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/07/2012
Label:
Jagjaguwar
UPC:
0656605220123
catalogNumber:
52201
Rank:
27487

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sharon Van Etten   Primary Artist,Organ,Guitar,Harmonium,Ukulele,Vocals
Matt Barrick   Drums
Thomas Bartlett   Piano,Keyboards,fender rhodes
Bryce Dessner   Ebo
Aaron Dessner   Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Glockenspiel,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Slide Guitar,Shaker,Guitar Feedback
Bryan Devendorf   Drums
Rob Moose   Mandolin,Violin,Viola
Clarice Jensen   Cello
Zach Condon   Vocals
Doug Keith   Bass,Guitar
Ben Lord   Drums
Jenn Wasner   Vocals
Benjamin Lanz   Trombone
Julianna Barwick   Vocals
Logan Coale   Double Bass

Technical Credits

Joe Lambert   Mastering
Peter Katis   Engineer
Brian McTear   Engineer
Peter Mavrogeorgis   Engineer
Bryce Dessner   Orchestration
Aaron Dessner   Producer,Engineer,drum machine,Orchestration
Rob Moose   Orchestration
Sharon Van Etten   Composer
Jon Low   Engineer

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