Songs, like smells, can trigger memories. There’s always a handful of songs/artists that remind you of a specific person, place, or event. Sharon Van Etten’s Serpents is one of those tracks that’s so tightly wound in my memory, that the feelings can be overwhelming memory triggers. The opening guitar echoes of that song immediately remind me of the day before everything changed. Sometimes, one would associate that as a negative, but it also serves as a reminder of better times, and an infinite number of memories that we wish we could drown ourselves in constantly.
Listening to the superb new release by Sharon Van Etten, Are We There, all the memories of hearing Serpents come howling back around, and I see myself in the growth of Van Etten as an artist, musician, and human. The opening track, Afraid Of Nothing, starts the album’s personal journey, and is just one of the strong tracks that feels more personal to me than most albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
There isn’t a track on here that isn’t as strong as the last, with each one, more emotion, ambition, and pure energy building upon the previous song. Your Love Is Killing Me, is melodiously, and one of the most potent tracks on the record, though there isn’t one that doesn’t stand up amongst the rest.
Tarifa also shows itself with intense vocals, and a multitude of backing instruments that never take over her vocals, which are just bloody well brilliant throughout. Other exceptional songs? The entire album, however, for brevity’s sake, You Know Me Well, and Nothing Will Change, are worth your immediate attention.
The personal and artistic growth that is apparent as this gorgeous album moves through it’s eleven tracks is absolutely mind-blowing. Sharon Van Etten is truly making her place as an artist that we should all dedicate the proper time to have a listen to. It’s truly a gem of an album, and one that perhaps feels just as personal to me, as a listener, as it does the artist, as it’s creator.
Are We There, stands out as one of the most solid, and assertive, releases of 2014.