I remember when I first heard her debut album “Because I Was In Love” a heartbreaking lament of lost love and unresolved feelings. It had such a resonating quality to it, I guess, there are albums that are released or discovered at the right times that seem to chronicle what is going on in the listeners head – I definitely felt a kinship with Van Etten.
“Because I was in Love” had a much more skeletal approach which basically consisted of Van Etten on vocals and guitar and not much else. I was captivated – especially for someone who tends to lean towards more singer songwriter stuff, and if it’s slightly melancholic I’m all ears. Comparisons to other female singers are inevitable – a reference point is always good though. Van Etten poses the same pretty, dreamy vocals that makes Hope Sandoval so adored, but with ‘Tramp’ it’s amped up more almost harking back to the PJ Harvey of the ‘Is This Desire?’ days.
A song like the opener ‘Warsaw’ is a prime example of that. “Magic Chords” is a stand out song, the marching band-esque nature of the drums throughout the song mixed with the dub-like synths wrap around her ethereal voice effortlessly – it’s beautiful.
While “Tramp” still retains those days of old feeling, Van Etten still remains vulnerable and candid, even with a more fleshed out sound it doesn’t detract from the emotional and beautiful song writing – which I might add as only got stronger with each album – it really has no weak spot at all, which its very rare especially these days. With help from well known musicians like the Dessner twins from The National, Zach Condon from Beiut and Wye Oak’s Jen Wasner “Tramp” becomes an utter triumph and more focussed and stronger Van Etten only makes for multiple listens.
BEST SONGS: Warsaw, Serpents, Leonard, In Line, All I Can, We Are Fine, Magic Chords, Ask