- LP - black vinyl
Like an unreleased side C of the musically mature, thematically searching Are We There, Sharon Van Etten enacts the same tone with repeat co-producer Stewart Lerman, and is lyrically still struggling, coping, and navigating trying relationships on I Don’t Want to Let You Down. Some of those relationship problems were caused, she has admitted, by being absent in the pursuit of her music career, a dilemma of self-awareness that provides fodder for much of the five-track EP. In “I Always Fall Apart,” accompanied only by wistful piano and strings, she tenderly repeats “It’s not my fault/It’s just my flaw/It’s who I am.” The remaining tracks all feature a full band, including rotating guest appearances by her vocal-harmony shadow aka multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick, guitarist Adam Granduciel and bassist Dave Hartley of the War on Drugs, bassist Brad Cook of Megafaun, and drummer Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five, among others, all directing the spotlight toward Van Etten’s rock-tender vocals. The self-titled opener has the quickest tempo, most pronounced guitars, and catchiest chorus, but still wails with yearning. The album closes with a seductively imperfect live performance of “Tell Me,” an impactful, spaciously arranged rock lament with a far-reaching melody (“I believed you when you shut your eyes and dreamed a dream without me”). Comparisons to Brandi Carlile will continue as Van Etten pushes her vocals here with mourning yodels and sturdy grit over her ever poignant tone. Both strong and vulnerable, I Don’t Want to Let You Down is a concise and angst-packed set delivered with emphasis in all the right places.
All Music – Marcy Donelson
I Don’t Want To Let You Down EP – Sharon Van Etten is no longer in stock