Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow
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Sharon Van Etten has made her name with raw, atmospheric music, produced by the simple “girl with a guitar” formula. But on her latest album Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten parts from convention with the addition of John Congleton-produced art-pop fuzz. The result is more depth and texture, but with the same unrestrained vocals.
Confessing to a litany of sins with her signature candor, Remind Me Tomorrow is a reflection of the person Van Etten once was, and a squaring with the faults she still carries with her. The first track, “I Told You Everything,” starts off with her singing, “sitting at the bar I told you everything / He said ‘Holy shit, you almost died.’” The track is sparse, just a piano and drum, pulling her jarring lyrics into sharp focus.
Van Etten’s nostalgic and often deadpan storytelling isn’t lost to all the synths, not by a long shot. Lead single “Comeback Kid” has an intense Arcade Fire-style energy to it, but with Van Etten’s swagger. “Seventeen” is heavy with nostalgia. The third single from the album, it’s a dialogue between the singer and herself, at age 17. “I used to be free, I used to be seventeen,” laments a loss of innocence. By the end of the track, there is a reconciliation, understanding that remembered youth never paints a full picture.
There are several roaring, catchy tracks on Remind Me Tomorrow, but Van Etten does not neglect her signature moody slow jams. “Memorial Day” and “Stay” have the same lazy tempo, the former dark and swirling, the latter light and sexy. The seething intensity of “Hands” is a reminder of Van Etten’s gothic flair.
Sharon Van Etten is an unnaturally consistent songwriter. Each track is imbued with pathos, often just a breath in between the staggering joy and sorrow. The strong Springsteen influence and creative production are a delicious pairing. The album is rooted in folk music (in a Springsteen sense), still built on simple storytelling, guitars and pianos, but synthesized with a modern sheen. In the opening track, Van Etten claims, “I told you everything, about everything.” Even if the material and formula have been heard before, Remind Me Tomorrow feels brand new.
Notable Tracks: "Comeback Kid" | “I Told You Everything” | "Seventeen"