(stereogum.com)

Sharon Van Etten is ethereal in ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’

Album Reviews/Arts & Entertainment by

Sharon Van Etten has never shied away from vulnerability. Her music is often associated with a certain melancholy and is characterized by honest lyrics on love, inevitable heartbreak, and the self-reflection that follows. However, on her newest record Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten shifts away from her usual brooding depictions of love. The album follows her journey into monogamy and motherhood, and the singer-songwriter’s sound has changed accordingly. She is not angsty here, rather, Remind Me Tomorrow is a reflection on growth and power in what is sure to be a candidate for album of the year.

Vulnerability and contemplation remain common themes on this LP. However, Van Etten trades in her signature guitar-based tracks for a darker, more experimental sound with the use of synthesizers and drones. “Memorial Day” evokes mystery with its unconventional beat structure and layered echoing vocals. “Jupiter 4” is the album’s extra-terrestrial centrepiece, a track that could easily find its way into a science-fiction film with its eerie pulsation over warped synths. The opening track “I Told You Everything” is a piano-driven number that finds its groove halfway through. Here, Van Etten recounts the night that she shared the story of a near-death experience with a would-be lover. Although the instrumentation throughout the album is gloomy, Van Etten successfully juxtaposes it with hopeful and confessional lyricism.

Much of Van Etten’s earlier works showcase the singer’s search—for love, happiness, and autonomy. However, in Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten has seemingly found what she’s been looking for. “Want your whole star to shine on in / One star, one light / The meaning of life,” she quietly sings in the closing track “Stay,” an intimate dedication to her son. Romance can be temporary; however, the love between a mother and her child is permanent, and Van Etten has never sounded more confident expressing this unbreakable connection. Even in the midst of the chaos that is motherhood, she is a voice of reason, and Remind Me Tomorrow is a testament to the importance of the destination after a long journey.

Essential tracks: “I Told You Everything,” “Seventeen,” “Malibu,” “Stay”

★★★★1/2