Music Reviews
We've Been Going About This All Wrong

Sharon Van Etten We've Been Going About This All Wrong

(Jagjaguwar) Rating - 8/10

On her sixth full-length LP, Sharon Van Etten starts down the path of rebuilding her life after a period of flux. Van Etten, who produced the album in her home studio in Los Angeles, pleas with clarity of purpose. But she surrounds those vigorous pleas, mostly the anxiety of being pandemic-stricken, with vaguely stated uncertainties she can't control.

While the twinkling country ballad of Darkness Fades communicates the torture of being close to someone, Anything dramatizes being devoid of feeling when there's no escape. Van Etten returns to the intimate folk that defined her early career, even if she melds her songcraft with the grand, soaring textures that gave so much personality to pivotal statements like 2019's Remind Me Tomorrow. She might elegantly strum her guitar in Come Back without much fanfare, but every single musical element that surrounds her lends a beatific atmosphere—carrying that lingering vocal tenor in the midst of what feels like the end of the world.

Van Etten does find room to experiment with varying degrees of success. While she returns to a familiar new wave terrain on I'll Try, Van Etten instead pushes her sleek 80s stylings to new and exciting directions on Mistake. But it's the album's quieter moments that command one's attention, like on Darkish, in which she attempts to pull herself out of a dark mood as she daydreams about finding some solace. There's a distinct sound of birds chirping in the background, bringing what seems like a natural calling amidst her personal chaos.

Considering how she placed herself in a specific time and place on We've Been Going About This All Wrong, Van Etten took the risk of not releasing any singles beforehand so audiences could more fully understand the full scope of the story. She holds a little bit of control before charging ahead, unlocking the connection she craves after experiencing a ceaseless stream of negativity. It's the kind of emotional catharsis all of us can relate to during these uncertian times.