“Painful” and “brutal” aren’t necessarily your typical adjectives when describing one of the year’s most revered albums. But Sharon Van Etten always seems to find a way to turn the most personal of moments into beautiful, cathartic music. The singer quietly broke onto the scene in 2009 with an album of acoustically-rendered ballads, but since that debut, Van Etten has expanded her palette tremendously. She’s just as adept as a full-on rock singer as she is behind a piano. This year’s Are We There shifts between these two poles with ease, all rendered with Van Etten’s sense for subtlety and shadow.
Are We There partially chronicles Van Etten’s own struggles as a touring musician, balancing relationships with the need to be away from home for most of the year. “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” explores this duality with remarkable honesty. Van Etten stopped by our Studio 1A recently and told KUTX’s Rick McNulty that these songs–emotional as they may be–are therapeutic for her. Night after night, she finds something new to explore in her songs. Her 1A performance was a perfect example of this–an exceptional set from an exceptional talent.