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Sharon Van Etten: Tiny Desk Concert


Sharon Van Etten performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Sept. 23, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR)

Sharon Van Etten performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Sept. 23, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR)

Mhari Shaw, NPR

When Sharon Van Etten made her Tiny Desk debut back in the fall of 2010, her voice exuded fragile, gentle grace. Performing songs from that year’s Epic, she huddled around a single acoustic guitar with backup singer Cat Martino to perform a set of tender and evocative folk-pop songs.

Cut to nearly a decade later. One of only a handful of artists to get a repeat headlining engagement at the Tiny Desk, Van Etten has spent the last few years purging her bucket list: She’s become an actress (appearing as a guest star on The OA), released a string of increasingly aggressive albums (the latest of which is this year’s synth-driven Remind Me Tomorrow), toured the world, performed on Twin Peaks, written music for films, become a mom, gone back to school and popped up in collaborations with everyone from Land of Talk to Jeff Goldblum.

So it’s only natural that this Tiny Desk concert feels different; you can hear it before Van Etten and her band even show up onscreen. Its pace set by the ticking beat of a drum machine, “Comeback Kid” is in full bloom here, with a swaying arrangement that fills the room before Van Etten opens her mouth. Backed by a full band — including frequent Van Etten collaborator Heather Woods Broderick, who played the Tiny Desk as a member of Horse Feathers way back in 2009 — the singer performs with considerable intensity here, seething through “You Shadow” before punctuating the set-closing “Seventeen” with a scream that slashes through the office air.

SET LIST

  • “Comeback Kid”
  • “You Shadow”
  • “Seventeen”

MUSICIANS

Sharon Van Etten: vocals, guitar; Heather Woods Broderick: keys, vocals; Jorge Balbi: drum machine; Devin Hoff: bass; Charley Damski: keys, vocals

CREDITS

Producers: Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Niki Walker; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Mhari Shaw/NPR

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.