Sharon Van Etten: Tramp

    On third LP Tramp, the understated mournful croon of Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten is nowhere to be found. After dealing with insecure heartache on debut Because I Was In Love and sophomore LP Epic, Etten now sounds more self-assured than ever before. 

    Tramp begins with three powerful numbers that showcase Tom Petty-esqe strumming under Etten’s beautiful rasp, conjuring a charming sense of melancholy and mystery, while remaining attentive to sharp, catchy songwriting. “Serpents,” the album’s first single (featuring the omnipresent Dessner brothers of The National), is lyrically darker and more aggressive than much of her past work, complemented by a driving cacophony of electric drums. 

    But Tramp’s latter half drags, delving into lazier dream-pop songs that at times feel emotionally draining. With the help of a Fender ukulele and Beirut’s Zach Condon on back-up vocals, the album begins to regain some zeal on the excellent track “We Are Fine.” It’s not quite enough to stir up the same engaging bravado of the album’s explosive first half, but it’s more than enough to keep us anticipating a more confident fourth release. (7/10)

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