“Every Time The Sun Comes Up”: Sharon Van Etten’s New Single

by Ryan Kehr (English/Journalism), published May 3rd 2014

sharon-van-etten

It doesn’t seem too long ago that Ms. Van Etten released her debut LP Because I Was In Love, and that’s largely because it wasn’t. Just five years after throwing herself into the Brooklyn songwriting scene, Van Etten’s fourth studio album, Are We There?, is slated for an early June release. The hype train started up this week with the release of its first single, “Every Time The Sun Comes Up.”

Take a listen below:

Because I Was In Love was an intimate affair—filled with melancholic vocal lines falling over a single nylon-strung guitar. Her two following releases, Epic and Tramp, reflected the coming-of-age for this young New Jersey-turned-Brooklyn songwriter; Epic thrived off its haunting stripped down harmonium tracks, while Tramp marked a fully-accompanied and maturing Van Etten—one ready to move from the singer-songwriter persona of old and into the indie-rock front-woman role she deserves.

This impending fourth LP is thusly an important proving ground for Sharon Van Etten. She’s arrived—now what?

“Every Time The Sun Comes Up” is the first glimpse into this future. The track is framed by a repetitive, down-tempo drum hit and features a Sharon Van Etten that’s lyrically consistent with her past work.

Kicking off the second verse, Van Etten proudly proclaims “People say I’m a one-hit-wonder, but what happens when I have to. I washed your dishes but I shit in your bathroom.” These frank, introspective lines are a trademark of her writing style and act to carve out a unique niche for her in the indie-folk/rock world. The repeating harmonized chorus of “every time the sun comes up I’m in trouble” follows the same melancholic acceptance found in Tramp’s “Magic Chords” (“we’ve got to lose, we’ve got to lose some time”) or Epic’s “Dsharpg” (“What if we care, we’re all fools to believe in that”). Lines like these work to this Brooklyn musician’s advantage, creating a consistency that keeps her work recognizable but distinct enough to be compelling.

Tonally however, “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” suggests a more optimistic turn of Etten’s career. Lazily strummed major chords and a bright guitar tone both seem to suggest a lighter, more laid-back Van Etten. When coupled with an impromptu outro that features studio-outtake-esque laughter and dialogue, the track holds much more levity than anything on Tramp and shows that while she can be quite morose in her writing, she never takes herself all that seriously. This is a nice touch on her part—a breath of fresh air for a sound that, at times, can verge on the melodramatic.

The melody itself is my largest gripe with the track. Comprised largely of half-note repeating lines on the same pitch, the verses can be a bit exhausting. And the chorus itself is very cookie-cutter—it’s something you’d expect to hear on a Sharon Van Etten recording.

So it’s not a perfect track. But it does suggest a compelling new spin on Van Etten’s normally quite dramatic writing; I’m excited to hear what direction she’ll be taking the rest of the album.

Check out my full review of Are We There? when it drops on June 5th.

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