|Rating: 3.5 / 5
Reviewer: Michelle Kennedy
Sharon Van Etten is a tramp. But let’s be clear. We’re using tramp to mean a traveller – foot worn and strong, made stronger by her pain. A slut for love and a journey maybe…
Van Etten is part folkie, part soul singer, part Brooklyn hipster and part riot grrrl, channeling Courtney Love or Etta James and sometimes even Fiest. Van Etten is a powerhouse singer: strong, crystal clear and driven with purpose. If Tramp is any indication, Van Etten has been hurt before – many times – and she isn’t afraid to say it. Tramp is deceptively simple but The National’s Aaron Dessner has a created a solid, jubilant and warm album where each instrument and voice is given its full due. Dessner and others (including Zach Condon of Beirut fame) provide fantastic depth to Van Etten’s already sexy, powerful voice and skill as a songwriter. The first single, ‘Serpents’, is particularly strong as is ‘Kevin’s’. ‘I’m Wrong’, however, is the album’s true standout.
Van Etten, as mentioned, has clearly been through the ringer when it comes to love and it’s this experience that is Tramp’s ultimate downfall. Every song is a break-up song and every song tends toward the break-up song cliché. A lot of “Who am I?”, “Where am I?”, “How did I get here?” and “Will I do it all over again?” And, like all break-up songs, there is no answer.
Tramp is Van Etten’s third release, and despite its repetitive nature, it shows the potential for her fourth to be truly ground breaking!