SXSW: Sharon Van Etten
What a difference a year makes. Last SXSW, Sharon Van Etten was playing intimate clubs to a small but devoted following. Now she’s one of the main acts at the NPR showcase, one of the highest profile slots at SXSW. She’s released a terrific new record, Tramp, that’s marked by tough, bittersweet songs. She’s been profiled in the NY Times, opened for The National, and is successfully touring the country. It’s easy to understand the appeal: Van Etten’s voice shifts from the damaged to the fiercely defiant, and she’s a magnetic performer.
Her set at Stubb’s was expansive and beautifully layered, but she can still get to the heart of the matter, as she did with a sharp, searing rendition of “Serpents.” It’s just three minutes, but that makes it no less harrowing—by the time you know what hit you it’s too late, you’re already addicted.
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