RiverEdge Park
7th Heaven
Lovers Lane

Lay your hands on me

| October 31, 2010 | 0 Comments


New Jersey gets no respect. The entertainment industry sees it as a bastion for bad police (Copland), criminals (“The Sopranos”), and a playground for trash (“Jersey Shore”). Facebook founder/outsider Mark Zuckerberg recently made a show of his philanthropy by dumping a wad of cash on its school systems — because they suck.

Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen have given way to Bon Jovi, Naughty By Nature, and My Chemical Romance. It’s ridiculous to suggest she’ll turn its fortunes around on her own, but Sharon Van Etten can trace her history to there, and undoubtedly the state impacted the darkness inside her. A singer/songwriter who transcends the genre through the power of her voice and biting lyrics, Van Etten’s low-profile debut (Because I Was In Love) caught the attention of A-list indie rockers Bon Iver and The National, who each covered tracks. Having relocated to Brooklyn, she guested on The Antlers‘ highly rated debut and made friends with TV On The Radio, Espers, and Megafaun. For her second outing, this year’s Epic (Ba Da Bing), she wisely switches gears and opens with a full band. Though she wrote most of the songs with an electric guitar, the tracks bank more on atmosphere than crunch (this tour’s pairing with José González’s Junip is a match), and she learns to vocalize more intricately as opposed to straight melodic lyrical readings. Though there’s a sense she hasn’t quite delivered the full package yet, Van Etten’s already done more for her state’s repuation recently than anyone not named Patti Smith or Yo La Tengo. (Saturday@Lincoln Hall with Junip.)

— Steve Forstneger

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