Song Of The Day

Sharon Van Etten: Big Love In Small Moments

Sharon Van Etten i i

hide caption"Much More Than That" is sure to be staple of crush-fueled mixtapes for as long as such a thing exists.

courtesy of the artist
Sharon Van Etten

"Much More Than That" is sure to be staple of crush-fueled mixtapes for as long as such a thing exists.

courtesy of the artist

Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Much More Than That"
  • Artist: Sharon Van Etten
  • CD: Because I Was in Love
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

The opening seconds of "Much More Than That," by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, are almost uncomfortable in their intimacy. Alone with her acoustic guitar, with only a few cooing oohs behind her, Van Etten opens by unleashing a vulnerable and loaded plea: "Please don't take me lightly."

Though her insecurity never wanes, Van Etten soon finds backup in layer upon layer of her own soft, sweet voice, as "Much More Than That" catalogs a string of tiny, seemingly insignificant moments. After acknowledging the fear and risk inherent in giving voice to grandiose emotions — "One day I'll be a better writer," she laments — Van Etten paints a vivid, if tentative, portrait of a few meaningful gestures: "My toe hit your toe lightly / Your toe met my heel right back / And I don't think I need much more than that."

Sure to be staple of crush-fueled mixtapes for as long as such a thing exists, "Much More Than That" feels contradictory in its very nature: It's a brilliantly expressed look at the way big love can't always be expressed brilliantly. Her words alone are enough to announce Van Etten as a major talent; that she dresses her thoughts in a heart-wrenchingly beautiful chorus of overdubbed voices is enough to make listeners feel downright spoiled. For a song about making do with something small and meaningful, it sure does pile on extra reasons to love it intensely.

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This story originally ran on Dec. 10, 2009.

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Because I Was in Love

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Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Because I Was in Love
  • Artist: Sharon Van Etten
  • Label: Language of Stone
  • Released: 2009
 

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