Published Jun 05, 2015Idiosyncratic singer Sharon Van Etten may have titled her new EP I Don't Want To Let You Down, but she sings the title track's verses in a resigned tone, as if she's grown accustomed to the inevitability of such disappointment. That sentiment is echoed by the tune's mopey guitar work. It's an effective but straightforward song, which may come as a surprise to fans of her preceding release, last year's Are We There, which was praised for Van Etten's unflinchingly vulnerable lyricism and vocal tone, along with her unpredictable, distinctly herky-jerky singing style.
Some of the new EP's tunes — especially "Just Like Blood" — may feature the brittle high notes that became Van Etten's singing signature on her last LP, but the songstress also practices surprising restraint throughout much of these five fresh tracks. On "Pay My Debts," she begins by singing quieter than a distant whisper, before belting out one of the most assuredly declarative choruses in her entire discography. Midway track "I Always Fall Apart," is an even sparser number, featuring only a mournful violin, Van Etten's piano playing and her smouldering lyrics, enunciated with Patti Smith-style precision.
Those moments set the new EP apart from its predecessor, and reveal a steadier, more confident Van Etten, which — surprisingly enough — is just as thrilling as the unpredictable, anxious turns that garnered her so much praise on her last LP. (Jagjaguwar)