Tramp, Sharon Van Etten’s third album, is washed in a plaintive mood but is driven by an urgency that keeps it interesting. On more optimistic songs like “Leonard”, Sharon Van Etten’s vocals become operatic, one word stretched across a few scales creating constant crescendos. Where someone like Rufus Wainwright would break into a falsetto with a horn section blaring, Van Etten lets the sound swim around as an accompaniment to her voice. At times her slight lilt is taunting the music to catch up to her. Songs like “All I Can” that build softly musically would benefit from a little more variation that the welcome back up vocals from Beirut’s Zach Condon on “We are Fine” bring. Produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, Tramp is a nice medium between Van Etten’s quieter singer-songwriter style and the strong, loud work she jumped to with 2010’s Epic.
Sharon Van Etten performs Thursday, February 23rd, at The Paradise.