I Don’t Want To Let You Down is a somewhat surprisingly quick follow up to Sharon Van Etten’s highly acclaimed album Are We There? released around the same time last year with 4 brand new tracks and a ‘live’ track that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish at all until the crowd come in at the end. Maybe not such a surprise is that it’s a pretty decent listen.
My experience with Sharon Van Etten’s music is limited to that last album but it’s not hard to tell at this point in her career that she’s found her niche, with her music establishing an atmospheric tone backed up with a melding of country-twinged guitars, pianos and organs. She certainly sounds comfortable in her position as a singer-songwriter, with a soothing and wide-ranged voice well suited to the atmospheric and sometimes darker-edged music she makes. I don’t know what you’d call it but as its base it’s country or certainly very southern-influenced but then wrapped in this much more contemporary shell. That comparison might be more because of her accent than anything else. As for the EP, it very much feels like a companion to Are We There? as much as it’s a followup. Songs like the title track, ‘Just Like Blood’ and ‘Pay My Debts’ could easily have fit inside that album and I wouldn’t call that a lack of progression simply because every track is very good. Outside of that there isn’t too much else to say, if you’ve liked her music up to now then I have a knack that you’ll enjoy this EP. Honestly the best thing about this entire EP is the nature of its release in the first place.
Sharon Van Etten already has a pretty good track record, so the fact that I Don’t Want To Let You Down is a great release doesn’t come as a surprise. What does is that it’s even an EP at all. Outside the realms of Bandcamp and the like EPs barely even exist anymore, replaced by exploitative deluxe editions of albums only a year after their original release. Most of the time those ‘deluxe’ tracks aren’t up to the same standard as the original tracklisting and no one would have batted an eyelid had Sharon Van Etten chose to go down the same path. Instead she put some real effort into the making of this EP and it shows in the quality of the songs. It’s no mere pitstop, it stands on its own and if more people followed her example, maybe we wouldn’t need deluxe editions of albums released only a year ago. Music politics aside though, I Don’t Want To Let You Down is a superb compliment to her previous album Are We There? and should get any fan excited about what’s to come next from the singer-songwriter.
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