- Dusdin Condren
- She's not completely dark.
Sharon Van Etten's songs are like that train you hear in the distance at 3 a.m. The immense hush, heading somewhere, boring its horn through the dark. Knowing the conductor is also awake makes you feel less lonely. Are We There is Van Etten's fourth album, released this past May on Jagjaguwar. In her writing, Van Etten is confessional and faces fears. She knows both the pain caused by being with someone who's not right and the pain of being away from someone who is right. A New Jersey native, Van Etten spent five years in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, soaking in country and folk music after a year of college there. Her voice stretches words out deeply from her lungs. "Your Love Is Killing Me" kicks out plaster walls to be unbound. She sings, "Break my legs so I won't walk to you/Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you/Burn my skin so I can't feel you/Stab my eyes so I can't see/You like it when I let you walk over me." If you're standing up when this song comes on, you'll want to sit down because of the solemnity. If you're sitting, you'll stand because of the courage and the majesty. I did, anyway. Van Etten spoke from the back bench of her tour van, somewhere between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.