A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features What Are You Watching? Newswire
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Sharon Van Etten: Epic

B+

Sharon Van Etten

Album: Epic
Label: Ba Da Bing!

Community Grade (5 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade

?

Compared with Sharon Van Etten’s downbeat 2009 debut Because I Was In Love, the new Epic really does sound larger than life. On the first album, the Brooklyn folkie’s gorgeously muted meditations on a ravaged romantic relationship attempted to replicate the emotional numbness of her home recordings. On Epic, Van Etten steps out with a sensitive crew of backing musicians and exhibits a newfound (and incredibly becoming) assertiveness. “I am not afraid, I am something,” she sings on “Peace Signs,” but the song’s rousingly angry martial stomp is what really sticks the fork in her romantic wound-licking. The knowing steel-guitar stunner “Save Yourself” emanates hard-won wisdom over a confident country-rock stroll, but even when Van Etten is backed only by her acoustic guitar on “A Crime,” the forcefulness of her delivery and lyrics is striking. “To say the words I want to say to you would be a crime,” she seethes, and she keeps strumming harder and harder until listeners believe it. Epic might be a transitional work, but it finds Van Etten moving toward a strong, exciting sound.