Breathing fresh life into previous works
Revisiting her 2010 album titled Epic, Sharon Van Etten re-releases the same tracks along with a handful of guest appearance covers in her new album epic Ten. The first seven tracks of the album are the same as her second album Epic but the last half of the record features guest appearances from Fiona Apple, IDLES, Big Red Machine and a few others. Each guest appearance offers its rendition in a cover of Etten’s songs originally heard on Epic, now a part of epic Ten.
Sharon Van Etten, born in Belleville, New Jersey, is the middle child of five siblings. Later on, in her adult life, she moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and attended Middle Tennessee State University to study recording. Soon she dropped out and found herself working in a coffee shop and stuck in an abusive relationship holding her back from songwriting and creating. Eventually, she moved away from all the turmoil surrounding her, moved back to New Jersey and released her hand-made debut album in 2009. epic Ten comes in as the indie singer’s sixth studio album. The structure of the album truly is distinct as it refreshes the ears to the original songs then gives a new fresh take as the different artists cover the same songs breathing new life to the record.
The first original song off Etten’s album is “A Crime,” which is a simple yet quite heavy track. The song barrels on with only an acoustic guitar that chugs on with a heavy hand slamming each chord. Etten’s vocals are fueled with pain as she sings in long, mournful, almost breathless lyrical lines, which stand against the harshness of the acoustic. Big Red Machine cover “A Crime,” giving it a fresh facelift. Their cover features a softer acoustic but is now accompanied by crashing drums and a high-octave electric guitar. Vocally, the structure is relatively the same as the vocals once again create long mournful breathless lines.
Fiona Apple covers the song “Love More,” fueling the empty nostalgia tank for any ‘90s Fiona Apple fan. Her cover, though still very minimalist like the original, has a more calm, welcoming feeling. The original starts with what seems like a droning harmonica/violin combination. It drones on as Etten sings, at times being a little too sharp for the ears. It then rises with swelling electric guitar and drums. Apple’s rendition starts with a calmer hand drum, background piano with a deep bass marching drum to fill the bottom low end. Both women sing the song with grace and poise, making it very pure and a joy to listen to.
“One Day” on the original record is a standard alternative folk song that carries a Fleetwood Mac Rumors vibe. The guitar has that delicious hazy twang to it, jamming along with a simple bassline and easy drums. The song takes on a whole new light after St. Panther’s cover of the same track. They bring to the table a new electronic vibe, with a digital synth and autotune. The cover is a mixture of an ‘80s new wave electronic sound with a present-day neo-soul autotuned vocal.
An edge is brought to “Don’t Do it” within Courtney Barnett’s cover. She creates a more edgy alternative track that, though it rides on an overdriven guitar vocally, Barnett’s voice is quite soothing, and it fits well within the instrumentals. Etten’s original track is a swelling song that carries both the feeling of being free yet a feeling of mourning is felt, but Barnett’s cover does not carry that mourning.
Sharon Van Ette touches base revisiting her second album Epic but now adds a twist. Once again, adding the same seven tracks, she now has some help from her friends adding a fresh tone to the same songs in epic Ten.