Originally published on KDHX.org
A young couple embraces the moonlight. A record collection is withheld and destroyed. Adoration, in all its glory and mishaps, permeates Van Etten’s music.
The singer-songwriter showcases her emotional intelligence on the subject at near perfect levels in these two tracks recorded exclusively for KDHX from her latest album, “Are We There.” Having recently performed an intimate show to adoring St. Louis fans, Van Etten has since crossed the Atlantic and has been breaking hearts on her European tour.
The two cuts are destined to become classics in their own right, rendered in ethereal, shooting-star glory — Etten performing solo, with her trademark romantic drawl, wavering at a fragile falsetto, and angelic strums of a six string, invites fervent contemplation of the lost love of yesterday, the unknown love of tomorrow, and everything in between.
In “Afraid of Nothing, Van Etten sends a love letter to someone ruled by caution, who holds keys to happiness but must be encouraged to open the door. She brings her mystery man to task, “You throw me a lame ‘wait shit out’ / You’re a little late,” and showcases a newer version of herself as an artist, one that is still heartbroken, yet more confident, more discerning about her desires. “I need you / to be afraid of nothing,” she implores, one last request for things to be made right.
“Tarifa” exhibits the same heartache, the same poignancy, in waltz time, like a slow dance shifting from the horizon to someplace closer, singing “We skipped the sunrise / looking across the grass.” She acquiesces to past memories unrealized. “Just figure it out,” she concedes in the song’s closing line, leaving the impression of an everlasting invitation, one that won’t dissipate with time or loss. The impermanence of the affair may seem real, but you have to hit repeat to feel it again and again.