Sharon Van Etten – Magic Chords

January 20, 2012

Never has intonation–the tiny, idiosyncratic creaks, cracks and whines that fill-out and shape an uttered word–been so important for an artist. Sharon Van Etten’s lyrics are certainly poetic, but on paper, they could be mistaken for soft-ball, stock, indie-folk fodder. But when delivered by Van Etten, the simplest of refrains like, “You’ve got to lose sometimes,” becomes so defined and perfectly evocative of Van Etten’s signature hopeful despair. “Magic Chords,” a track off of the soon to be released Tramp, is like a lot of Van Etten’s tracks in that its treasures need to be mined, and its rewards are only often realized on second, third and fourth listen. It’s not that SVE is a grower (the ugliest word in the arena of music review), it’s that her talents are understated and subtle in a way that doesn’t imply there is a dearth of substance behind her music, but rather that, as of now, we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.