Taking Chances by Sharon Van Etten

People tend to describe Sharon Van Etten’s music as “haunting.” Instrumentally however, her sound is much more minimal than other folk rock artists. She’s been keeping her ingredients simple with light drums, soft omnichords, and the occasional guitar crescendo. Van Etten simply isn’t the type to use unnecessary embellishments. The “haunting” characteristic in her music comes more from her vocal performance than it does her instrumental performance–it lies in the way she carries her brooding harmonies. They represent a “haunting” time in Van Etten’s life. The artist was once under the emotionally abusive scrutiny of her boyfriend who discouraged her pursuit of music and even went so far as to crush her guitar along with her dreams. She snuck away from his apartment on a midnight years ago thus ending the unhealthy relationship, but the painful memories of these darker times live on–lurking underneath her sheet music, powering her sensitive performances, and  compelling the hearts of those that have endured similar bouts of emotional pain. “Taking Chances” and every other one of her tracks is a blessed instance where the caged bird, now freed, sings, and we as listeners have the privilege of relishing in this pleasant reality for Van Etten. So enjoy!

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