Tuesday, April 24, 2012
REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten @ Ottobar, Baltimore, MD, 4/19/12
By Quinn S.
Sharon Van Etten released one of this year's best albums with Tramp, and her performance at the Ottobar here in Baltimore this past Thursday proved why she's such a standout. Her voice is angelic but haunting, confident yet shy. During the show, Van Etten's voice echoed the emotional range of highs reminiscent of Roy Orbison, simultaneously projecting an emotional investment in and cool detachment from love. She primarily drew from Tramp throughout the evening, with songs like "Serpents" and "In Line" sounding even more beautiful and impassioned live -- and when a songwriter can turn sorrow into beauty, it's nothing short of magical. There's no doubt Van Etten's strong songwriting is what set the pace at the show, but, again, it was her voice that made the evening especially captivating and memorable. On record, it seems at times as though she's singing at the very limit of her range -- in the best way possible, for the record -- but live it all sounds natural, particularly compelling and filled with an even deeper amount of conviction. The only weak point of the show was Van Etten's decision to end the concert with a few quiet, mellow songs instead of with the epic conclusion she and her three-piece band gave to "Joke or A Lie." But in the end, it hardly detracted from the success of the evening.
Catch Van Etten on tour with opener Flock of Dimes (Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak).
April 24 Knoxville, TN - The Square Room
April 25 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
April 26 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
April 27 Cincinnati, OH - Mayday Northside
April 28 Pittsburgh, PA - Carnegie Lecture Hall
May 3 Brooklyn, NY - Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
June 21 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
July 28 Newport, RI - Newport Folk Festival
August 4 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
August 18 Jackson, WY - Center For The Arts
September 22 Asbury Park, NY - All Tomorrow's Parties - I'll Be Your Mirror
Tramp is out now on Jagjaguwar.
Sharon Van Etten