LIVE: Sharon Van Etten - epic Ten livestream
Following the ten year anniversary of the hallmark album, epic, released in 2010, Sharon Van Etten marked the moment by releasing epic Ten, an album of covers formed from the original album, reflective of her own place in music and how often she works with others when writing. The process of collaboration is an important part of her work, which is especially emphasised in sections of the documentary offered alongside the performance.
Whilst COVID-19 restrictions don't allow for a traditional live performance anyway, there is something especially comforting in the way that the livestream can give space to create something longer lasting than a hazy memory, and still go some way to creating that intimacy that gigs would once have. With musicians as well known as Sharon Van Etten (who has become phenomenally popular over the last decade), it also creates a space for the sorts of gig many would never get to see. With Van Etten, this becomes especially important as a musician who was built by these small intimate spaces - in fact it's crucial in her make up as an artist.
The livestream/documentary begins with the making of the album through many different interviews and points of reference, though especially the growth and feeling of the record. Unlike many other similar projects though, this feels much more created by the artist, reflecting, than a filmmaker looking in, which perfectly encompasses much of the intimate feeling her work is built on. The gig sits after the documentary and is set in Zebulon, a small venue that always supported her and many others at the start of their careers. Despite it being ten plus years since writing the album, when she plays tracks it still seems raw and untamed, but especially does not feel disjointed, or like a rehash like for many others.
epic Ten, as both a livestream and also an album, is not something new, but instead is a recognition of where her writing has come from, and how far it has evolved. The gig continues through the album, in a rare play-through, in a perfect fashion. As much as the songs are intimate, her stance and body language now reflect her current popularity. It is nice to see an artist as dedicated to their roots, and that original writing as much as this; it is incredibly rare to find someone that becomes larger than life, but can still create haunting and beautiful music.
epic Ten is out now via Ba Da Bing Records.