Sharon Van Etten’s Electronic Dreamscapes 

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Since last we heard from Sharon Van Etten in 2014’s Are We There, the New Jersey native has had a child, become the star of a Netflix series and moved to Los Angeles to escape New York’s unaffordable housing. The observation that the resulting album Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar) is an expansive and less tense work might normally suggest a Southern California twang of Americana, but in Van Etten’s case, it means a lush EDM sound with distorted electronics. Van Etten has made many thematic leaps in her career, moving from folkie harmonics to guitar-driven tension, and now to the sort of electronica favored by Wye Oak.

John Congleton oversees sound manipulations and keyboards; he’s worked with everyone from The Accidentals to Shearwater. When his sounds swamp Van Etten’s natural styles, as in “Jupiter 4,” the effects are indirect and strange, but when Van Etten opts for simple declarations in “Comeback Kid” and “Malibu,” her work is at its best. If the L.A. move leads to more acting roles to duplicate her success in The OA, Van Etten might start treating songwriting as a sideline. But for now, she is one of the few artists to drastically evolve in odd new directions with each album.


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