The dark haired songstress’s black bangs fell over her eyes. Sharon Van Etten was stolid, strumming her fire red guitar, chin ever so slightly tucked to position her mouth centimeters from the microphone, and eyes cloaked behind the curtain of hair that disconnected the musician from fans even on the lighter melodic number, “One Day.” But, her introversion was an alluring trait that added to the mystery of this artist. Her live vocals coupled with the vibrato are unimitable and more captivating than her digital tracks, which on a closer listen are composed of just a few repeated chords. Her wispy, melodic vocals makes up for the fact, and serenaded an unusually packed, cozy and dim, orange lit venue in Madison’s Der Ratheskeller with her latest album, “Epic.” Her music isn’t the most upbeat and understandably so. There is a weighty baggage of physical and emotional abuse from her past that you desperately want to mend; in retrospect the shadowy expression that translates into a warmth of sound, hushing even a routy crowd imbibed with beer, would cease to exist. I’m comforted by the fact that she has moved on and is willing to share her discovered serenity through music, but maybe I’m just justifying my acquisitiveness.
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