Sharon Van Etten, despite having a catalog of tear-jerking, slow-burning songs about heartbreak and “men issues,” is one of the most refreshing singer-songwriters to emerge from the depths of folk/Americana roots. Her stunning sophomore LP, Epic, is dedicated to Fleetwood Mac. While most of the songs in the dusk set were from this album, she played several crowd favorites (she did the first two and last two songs solo acoustic, the latter two being fan requests) from her debut album, including “I Fold” and “Consolation Prize.”
I’ve been waiting to write a piece on Sharon since I saw her open up for Junip last autumn and again in March for SXSW. This was her first time ever at Bumbershoot, in what seems to be a year full of exciting new experiences for her and her band mates — the next three gigs they are playing include Portland’s MusicfestNW, a date on September 11 in LA with The National and Neko Case (!!!!) and an NPR World Cafe spot with David Dye on September 23. She is genuinely like-able and values kindness — her banter in-between songs is light-hearted and funny. As with the last two times I saw her, I was left asking myself how such a genuine, down-to-earth woman could write such powerful songs about relationship problems. Then again, I wouldn’t get to sing along to songs that, I swear, were written about me. Catch her if you can but prepared to be moved.