Sharon Van Etten’s been breaking hearts left and right, but the listeners affected couldn’t seem to be any more pleased. The Jersey by way of Tennessee (and current New York City) resident’s most recent release Epic has caught a great deal of attention from fans and critics alike (Epic made a hella lot of top ten lists for 2010), but it’s her bare-bones first release Because I Was in Love that belies the true capabilities of this musician with the huge and heavy-hearted voice (check out the video/song for “For You” from that album, *here*); undoubtedly, Van Etten’s got a solid foundation from which to build her next album. Tonight, she visits Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater in the midst of a long-haul tour and recently checked in with WMSE to give us some short and sweet details.
Where are you, at the moment?
At a Best Western in Bellingham, Washington.
How’s tour been treating you (you were just at SXSW)?
Tour has been great. I’ve been running a bit ragged, since we have been nonstop pretty much since September; my voice is hanging by a thread.
Has it been easy to keep in touch with your family and friends since you’ve been promoting Epic pretty nonstop?
I try my best… but it is hard. My family and friends are pretty understanding and supportive though. I call when I can and write postcards when I can.
On tour, do you have a favorite guitar you dote on, or do you have a couple that you switch around on?
My red Gibson ES135.
How has it been touring with Ben Lord (drums) and Doug Keith (bass)? They’re pretty recent band mates, right?
It’s been great — they make me laugh and they keep me in line. We have a lot of fun playing together and they do an amazing job helping me translate my new songs live.
Your first release (Because I Was in Love) was guitar/vocals; last year’s Epic built even more with added instrumentation. What’s next?
I am working on a new album with Aaron Dessner [The National]. He is helping to push me outside my comfort level and introduce sounds and scapes… centering a song around the melody without making it pop… it is going to be a bit more experimental this time.
You’ve played Milwaukee, before. What will be special for this time around?
This time I get to play with my band at a venue I’ve never played before. I am excited to share my new songs with everyone and meet new people and see old friends.