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Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow

Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten is an experienced, gritty musician from Belleville, New Jersey. Her recent 2019 release, Remind Me Tomorrow is a gorgeous departure from her previous four albums. Within the album’s ten tracks, Van Etten takes on a resolute and unyielding sound with heavy drums, synths and a bold utilization of her voice as a pervading, dark and beautiful instrument. Her preceding work often felt like a pair of well-worn jeans: familiar, comfortable and reliable. Remind Me Tomorrow ditches the recognizable acoustic cocoon for a daring, louder soundscape.

The last few years have been big for Van Etten. She made her acting debut in the series, The OA, furthered her education in psychology, had a baby and performed her song “Tarifa” at the Roadhouse in David Lynch’s 2017 Showtime series, Twin Peaks: The Return. In Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten has adopted a bit of the ethereal, haunting characteristics present within the Lynchian realm of Twin Peaks both sonically and lyrically. 

Sharon Van Etten
Photo by Ryan Pfluger

The first single, “Seventeen” is beautifully laden with synths and drums as Van Etten delivers lyrics that are wistful, pitying, yet nostalgic. “Follow my shadow / Around your corner / I used to be seventeen / Now you’re just like me,” Van Etten looks back on the short-lived, carefree nature of being seventeen as a powerful force. “Seventeen” is a realization that it is not mutually exclusive to throw some uncomfortable contempt on the growing pains of the past and to also celebrate aging out of teenage naivety.

“Follow me until you don’t know where you are” is an easy, inviting request that Van Etten opens “You Shadow” with. The track maintains a dreamy, bouncy beat with a biting chorus: “you ain’t nothing, you never won / you don’t do nothing I don’t do, you shadow.” It is a call for reform for imitators, a request to ban all additional shadows besides one’s own.

Another standout, “Comeback Kid” feels pure and bold. The quick 3-minute single showcases the deep, throaty vocals that Van Etten is capable of. It is darkly gorgeous, a perfect soundtrack for a shadowy dance club.

Softer tracks do exist on the album, such as the opening “I Told You Everything” in which Van Etten sings, “I told you everything / You said, ‘Holy shit, you almost died’” and the closing track, “Stay” which tapers into a melodic finale. 

Her most magnetizing performance in support of this record is her guest performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! TV show. Backed by a full band, Van Etten rocks a classic red suit, bathed in blue stage light. Holding a pair of maracas rather her guitar, Van Etten showcases the not-so-characteristically-quiet changes within her new work. She sings both singles, “You Shadow” and “Seventeen.” The hallmark moment occurs around 3 minutes into the performance of “Seventeen” when she emotionally belts out, “You’re crumbling up just to see / Afraid that you’ll be just like me.” It is a visceral, fantastic performance that embodies the dark energy beating within Remind Me Tomorrow

Sharon Van Etten’s Kimmel performance of “Seventeen” via Youtube.

With a bold sense of self-reflection, Remind Me Tomorrow casts a large, magnificent shadow on 2019 and its potential for change. More so, a potential for departure from the abrasive political and social climate that we are in, if only we can hold the mirror to our current and younger selves. Sharon Van Etten has created a necessary output of self-preservation in the Trump era, where creative projects and new direction are essential for heavy growth. Remind Me Tomorrow is patriotism to one’s self.

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