Sharon Van Etten may be a pretty non-offensive, friendly name and she has the friendly face to go with it but the lyrics on ‘Are We There’ can often make for a near to the knuckle listen. On ‘Break Me’ she sings fittingly “He can break me with one hand” or “Stab my eyes so I can’t see you” on ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’, which eventually builds up to a finale built on marching drums that will leave you with a lasting impression that maybe Van Etten should just stay single, poor soul.
The content within each song is razor sharp, of that there is no question, but some of the songs themselves are rather questionable. Opener ‘Afraid Of Nothing’ is Florence Welch on a bad day in Mid-February where she just wanted to stay in bed because the journey to the studio in the cold was just too much effort.
Like an album in reverse, the further you go down the more you are rewarded for sticking with it. ‘I Know’ is a stripped back piano ballad that perfectly defines Van Etten as a musician hung up on personal matters in love, but on this track she pulls it off with much more aplomb than on other places throughout the record.
She can, however be a two-sided coin and on album closer ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ she states “I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom” which is as funny as it is vile.
‘Are We There’ is so breath-takingly honest that it has to be admired, maybe she’d be better off writing a book because her word-play and analogies are so irreproachable that unfortunately it’s just about impossible for the musical side to stack up against it.
Are We There is out now on Jagjaguwar Records.