Sharon Van Etten
8:30pm, Central Presbyterian Church
"Chained to the wall" are the first words Sharon Van Etten speaks on "Love More," the gorgeous closer of her latest LP, 2010's Epic. There's something so devastating about her repose, especially since the album circles the aftermath of an abusive relationship, one the Jersey-born singer-guitarist was in for several years when she lived in Tennessee. Toxicity doesn't dominate Epic, however. The 29-year-old's way with words is poetic, removed from the pain but using it to create a powerful cocktail.
"Bad boyfriend stuff, blah, blah, blah," she laughs. "My first record was a bottomless pit straight out of a relationship album. It's a bleak record, but I'm still really proud of it, because I know who I was then. Epic is happier."
That catharsis comes through in "Love More" and much of Epic. There's also a feeling of Van Etten becoming comfortable with her talent.
"My junior and senior year of high school I wrote stupid songs but didn't take it seriously. Part of that's my insecurity. Writing poetic lyrics stream-of-conscience style maybe is a cop out, but I like the immediacy."
Since the late fall release of Epic, fans are popping up in the strangest places. The National's Aaron Dessner is on board to produce her third album, and early last year, Bon Iver covered "Love More" live. Van Etten tries to play it cool.
"Well, I just about shit my pants," she says. "I thought, 'How the hell do they know who I am?'"