×

Album Review: Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’

As she’s said in recent interviews, many life changes went into veteran indie singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s fifth and latest — and dramatically different — album, “Remind Me Tomorrow.” She summarizes it thus in the album’s bio: “I wrote this record while going to school, pregnant, after taking ‘The OA’ audition,” she says, referring to the Netflix series in which she appears as a recurring character (somewhere in there, she also wrote the score for Katherine Dieckmann’s film “Strange Weather” and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show “Tig”). “I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress and go to school [for a degree in psychology], and yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair and I feel like a mess, but I’m here. Doing it.”

Both the chaos and the focus of such Olympic-level multitasking are reflected in the album, which is a reinvention of the more conventional indie-rock singer-songwriter sound of her past albums, the most recent of which was 2014’s “Are We There.” Bored with the conventional rock-band format, she embraced electronics — but while such drastic shifts usually result in a fan-alienating, fish-out-of-water overreach (as evidenced by too many EDM- or hip-hop-influenced albums by too many rock or pop artists to number), instead Van Etten’s songs sound remarkably natural in their new setting.

Van Etten had a perfect collaborator for this sonic shift: prolific producer John Congleton, who has brought his brand of sonic precision to a wide variety of artists over the past few years — St. Vincent, the Decemberists, Angel Olsen, Suuns and many others. Here, he incorporates some elements from albums he did with those artists — the idiosyncratic songwriting of St. Vincent, the more conventional singing of Olsen, the streamlining of unusual sounds with Suuns — without making Van Etten sound like any of them. “Remind Me Tomorrow” is electronic-based without ever sounding like dance music; it’s atmospheric and cinematic and evocative without ever distracting from the songs.

And while it sounds different from anything Van Etten has ever done, it also never sounds like anyone but her: Her big, sweeping choruses and singer-songwritery melodies adapt surprisingly well to their new context, with heavy, synthetic basslines and sparkling electronic embellishments accenting her echo-laden, multi-tracked vocals. The songs, not surprisingly, reflect the massive changes the past few years have brought her. In “Seventeen,” which could be to a 17-year-old or to her younger self (or both), she sings, “Down beneath the ashes and stone/ Sure of what I’ve lived and have known/ I see you so uncomfortably alone/ Wish I could show you how much you’ve grown.” Toward the end, the song climaxes with some throat-shredding singing that was put in dramatic relief during her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel” earlier this week. That combination of calm focus and chaos perfectly encapsulates the album, and probably Van Etten’s past few years.

Album Review: Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’

More Music

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

  • Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal

    Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal With Kobalt

    Singer-songwriter-actor Hayley Kiyoko, seen most recently in a cameo in Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video, has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Kobalt, the company announced today. The partnership includes publishing administration, creative services and synch for all of her catalogue and future works. Jamie Kinelski, VP, Creative, Kobalt said, “Hayley [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco to Host MTV VMAs

    MTV has announced that comedian, actor and best-selling author Sebastian Maniscalco will host the 2019 “VMAs” live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, Aug. 26. Last year, Maniscalco published his best selling book “Stay Hungry,” followed by a stand up tour of the same name. The comedian has also sold out [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Fire Plot Thickens as New York Times Uncovers List of Affected Artists

    Lawsuits have been filed asking the Universal Music Group to come up with a complete accounting of recordings lost in the 2008 fire on the studio lot that destroyed untold thousands of master recordings, and UMG is unlikely to comply with those requests soon, for any number of practical or legal reasons. But the New [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content