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Epic is Sharon Van Etten‘s follow-up to her debut Because I Was In Love. While that album is a little slower and dark, Epic kicks off with “A Crime” which definitely rocks harder than anything on her debut despite being performed entirely on acoustic guitar.
“Peace Signs” is up next and it continues the mood, this time adding drums to the mix. This track is definitely a Rock song though.
Track three is “Save Yourself” which falls more into the ballad category, and is one of my favorite songs by Sharon. Melodically and lyrically this is a stunning track in all its beauty, and raw emotion.
“DsharpG” is the next song, and it is a slower track using an organ as opposed to guitar or piano. The track creates a very unique sound, and the harmonies in the song are very nice. It continues in the same mood as “Save Yourself.”
“Don’t Do It” starts slowly but builds gradually adding drums after the initial opening — ”Look me in the eye and say you can’t do it, you will if you want to” — Van Etten sings here as the whole song seems to be about suicide even if it isn’t stated outwardly.
“One Day” is the next track and is also the lead single from Epic. Here we have a song in which a relationship seems to be falling apart — “One day I’ll be fine with that, you don’t leave me now, do you love me back?” — she sings on the chorus. Sharon is seemingly asking this person to stay as she seems to not be able to handle it at the moment.
The album ends with “Love More” which wraps things up with a slower track to end this seven-song Indie classic.
I was fortunate enough to see Sharon Van Etten twice on the Epic tour. The first time was after I had heard “Because I Was In Love,” and I had seen she was coming to town to open for Junip (Jose Gonzalez’s band which I was unaware of at the time). So, I got tickets, and before the show took place, Epic came out.
While I was at the show, I had no idea what Sharon looked like, but as I sipped my drink and woman walked by. I remember thinking, “That must be her,” and it was. I grabbed a Van Halen style shirt from the merch table, and then the show started. When she came on stage she and her backing band rocked out pretty hard. I believe the opener was Peace Signs, but it’s been such a long time…my memory may be failing me. Still, it was a great set.
After Sharon’s set had ended, and before Junip came on, Sharon took over the merch table. So, naturally, I had to buy something else now. I went up and asked her for Epic on vinyl, and then told her what a great set she had. She was super gracious and very nice. Overall, it was a cool experience.
The other show where I saw Sharon live was at The Media Club in Vancouver which holds less than five hundred people at most. The stage is about a foot off the ground, and the venue overall is very intimate. I remember there seemed to be some die-hard fans as someone requested something that was a very early track off of a cassette. It was so obscure that she wasn’t even sure if she could recall how to play it. This was a small enough venue that the artist can hear you quite easily from the stage. Sadly, The Media Club no longer exists.
This year, Epic Ten was released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Epic. Aside from some well pressed colored vinyl, the package also featued is a second disc of bands covering the songs from Epic. Big Red Machine, which is Aaron Dessner of The National, and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver cover “A Crime.” Idles, a kick-ass Rock band from the UK cover “Peace Signs.” Lucinda Williams does an amazing version of “Save Yourself” to the point that it sounds as if she could have written it herself. “DSharpG” is covered by Shamir who I am not familair with but does a nice version of the song. “Don’t Do It” is covered by Courtney Barnett, and Vagabond, two more awesome artists everyone should check out. “One Day” is done by St. Panther, and wrapping things up “Love More” gets the Fiona Apple treatment .
So, Epic Ten is just a great celebration for a classic album by Sharon Van Etten. I highly recommend picking Epic Ten up especially if you enjoy artists such as Fiona Apple, Courtney Barnett, or Angel Olsen.
Please check out my video on Epic Ten, by Sharon Van Etten:
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