Broke and Beautiful
To say Brooklynite Sharon Van Etten has a way with words and emotion is an understatement. With her explosive third release Tramp, Etten raises the bar from 2010’s Epic, creating a haunting and raw musical experience. Resplendent melodies whisper of lacerated pasts, while Etten is backed up of a super-group of the indie music scene. The Walkman’s Matt Barrick, Beirut’s Zach Condon, The National’s Aaron Dessner, and Julianna Barwick all contribute.
Etten divides Tramp perfectly. The first half of the album opens up delicately to warm up listeners for the tempestuous second half. On lead single is “Serpents,” Etten turns up the rock dial to draw morose details of domestic abuse with bold, powerfully direct lyrics, breaking hearts immediately upon impact. Whether it’s the slow building and breathtaking “All I Can,” the buttery coos of “Much More Than That,” or the internalization in “Leonard,” Etten’s haunting voice invites you into a life unsure of direction, but confidently documenting every unknowing movement.
Tramp is an honorable and vulnerable album that displays life’s most broken and destructive chapters, but Etten has proven that brokenness can be a truly magnificent thing.