Sharon Van Etten's album, Because I Was In Love is the trembling frail rose, bruised with rain drops and wavering in a cold breeze, its color stripped to a minimal blush, thorns exposed, vulnerable, desperate and impossibly beautiful. There is just something about female singer songwriters of this genre...something innate and pure that manifests itself in the heartbroken slow songs.
Once some friends discussed music, and one said that he preferred the sad stuff...not the cheerful pop usually heard on the radio, but the depressed and dark, all the loneliness and lost desires and tragedy. Someone told him that he should listen to Cat Power. And yes, Sharon shares pieces; hints of that lone female voice over a weighted piano line, or perhaps the rippling guitar lines of Marissa Nadler. Because I Was In Love paints something different; a moment, a song, a glance turned into a sepia tinged film still, a scene with breathtaking tenderness and delicate need. "I Wish I Knew" lingers on each line of regret with its' slow graze of strings beneath her dream voice, capturing a helplessness and resignation with an unmasked beauty. "Consolation Prize" floats above the soft murmurs and humming of voices and subtle clicks of instruments. "I Fold" carries the slightest hint of hope within a plucked gentle melody, where Sharon's voice becomes merged with the music and the song is impossibly easy to sink into.
Many of her songs, in fact, move with this deliberate dreamy presence. Like a ghost that smiles behind each exposed moment, "Tornado" turns a swish and flick of every line into a force you'd hardly expect from such elegant, soft, vocal tones. Sharon excels at the understated; the bare necessities of her songs struggling to express emotions that are far heavier. The long, weighted quiet in "Keep", and the stretches of her voice threading each line into the next. Each sentiment tucked into another is nearly overwhelming in its' deliberate, subdued duration. With striking contrast against the hurried words and frantic guitars in "It's Not Like", Van Etten makes an urgent call that's somehow just a hint of the desperation and need stored in the strumming and turns of the song. The album finishes with unexpected rushes of explanations sandwiched between the distant plucked notes of "Holding Out"; the sparse melody and her emotions perfectly captured.
It seems fitting - this unblemished dark beauty in between the pages of light guitars whispering forgotten memories, regrets and desires, Because I Was In Love. - Laura Yan