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Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow (Album Review)

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Photo: Ryan Pfluger

We’ve all got them: those little chores we should be getting on with. Posting that letter. Watering our houseplants. Shaving our legs. Sharon Van Etten’s got them, too, but she favours a different approach to these small administrative tasks. ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’, her fifth album, is about being more present and not giving a shit about the small stuff.

It’s her richest and most full-bodied album to date; a world away from the grainy, self-produced folk melodies on her debut ‘Because I Was In Love’, or the more indie-inclined, Aaron Dessner-produced ‘Tramp’ in 2012. Here, she’s designed a new realm all of her own alongside producer John Congleton, whose construction of filthy, deep synths on tracks like No One’s Easy To Love, You Shadow and Hands works in contrast to her soft but powerful vocal range.

So why the change of pace? The answer is simple: people change. It’s been four years since her last album, and Van Etten has been pretty busy in the interim.

She had a son. Who says you can’t be a mother as an artist in New York City? Who says you can’t also act in the Netflix series The OA? Who says you can’t go to school and study psychology at the same time? Who says, on top of this, you can’t write an entire film score?

Van Etten was doing all of these things while working on ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’, and never has the juggling of tasks been so seamless. In a press statement, Van Etten said “this record is about pursuing your passions”. And that’s exactly what she’s done. Along with the idea of being more present, and getting mindless niggling things away and done with, this record is also about taking control of your own destiny.

A broader selection of instruments also plays its part in changing the pace of her new work. Putting down the guitar, she gravitated towards a synthesisers and organs in her down time from writing the score for Katherine Dieckmann’s film Strange Weather. When it comes to writer’s block, a change can be as good as a rest, and inspiration was rife when stepping away from the six string and sitting down at the keys.

‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ takes a darker tone than some of her previous outings. From the eerie and unexplained opening lyrics of “holy shit, you almost died”, to the menacing, anthemic lead single Comeback Kid, it’s clear to see the influence of the greats on Van Etten: nostalgic Seventeen harks back to ‘80s Bruce Springsteen with huge power percussion and flawless production. 

She also cites Suicide, Portishead and Nick Cave’s ‘Skeleton Tree’ as references for the brooding Jupiter 4 and spectral Memorial Day—the repetitive brass motif on the latter is so infiltrating it will haunt your dreams—bringing a subdued, intimate and almost gothic atmosphere to the record. Combining that with blistering pop sensibilities, newfound synths and complicated layering is a bold move, but she owns it, creating her most mature and intelligent work yet.

Sharon Van Etten Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu March 21 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Birmingham The Mill
Fri March 22 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sat March 23 2019 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Sun March 24 2019 - GLASGOW St Luke's
Tue March 26 2019 - LONDON Roundhouse
Wed March 27 2019 - BRISTOL SWX

Click here to compare & buy Sharon Van Etten Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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