When 2012 began Sharon Van Etten was probably the most darling-ed singer/songwriter in indie music. But since the release of her third LP, Tramp, this February, she seems to have ascended to the title of the most prolifically relevant and brilliantly acknowledged songwriter currently inhabiting music in general. And although she’s not technically a Philthadelphian (She hails from New Jersey and currently resides in Brooklyn), like the recently profiled Marissa Nadler (who shared a stage with Sharon recently at World Café Live), she is certainly an honorary resident. Sharon Van Etten’s second LP, Epic, was recorded in Philthy’s own Miner Street Studios and she kicked off the first leg of her latest tour here in the 215 with two shows (a sold out Free at Noon at World Café Live and a sold out evening performance at Johnny Brenda’s). Now, as she appears to be taking a breather and re-grouping between tours, she’s gracing PA with a brief two-day “tour,” tonight (6/21) at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer and tomorrow (6/22) for Pittsburgh’s WYEP’s Summer Music Festival.
Tramp contains the most diverse array of Sharon Van Etten’s capabilities of any release to date. There are a handful of hyper-minimalist numbers, similar to those found on Epic, but Sharon also seems to have opened herself up to slightly larger sounds, at times even bordering on Rock’N’Roll slightly tinged by the aesthetic of Garage and Post-Punk. The diversity of the album is no surprise, as it was recorded sporadically, over the course of 14 months, while Van Etten took on a transient existence, herself as the “tramp.” The only constant throughout this period was The National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced the album and whose studio provided a home for Tramp (pun intended). In addition to Dessner himself, the album also contains collaborations with members of The Walkimen, Beirut, and Wye Oak, among others. Since its release, the album has gained glowing reviews from both the most popular musical publications (Rolling Stone) and the most “credible” (Pitchfork) and Van Etten has made a number of noteworthy public appearances, including performances on Conan and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Her appearance on Union Transfer’s stage will be her biggest in Philadelphia yet and, while the room does seem to be lacking the intimacy in which her sounds best thrive, the venue’s classical and slightly haunting ambiance should make up for that. I must admit I’m a bit surprised that the show is yet to sell out (It’s been a while since that was the case for a local appearance of hers), so I would recommend reserving tickets before you get to the door.