“On Sharon Van Etten’s previous album, 2010’s Epic, she added a full backing band to add some muscle to the emotional heft of her fem-folkie lyrics and deep-but-still-feminine croon. Working with The National’s Aaron Dessner, the band is kept on a bit of a leash. Dessner instead highlights Sharon’s voice, and reserves the band for some bright splashes of color that come in supportive echos and reverbs – besides rhythmic support, of course.
Though, you wouldn’t know it at first with the opening “Warsaw,” a track with some slightly overdriven guitars and a chord progression that recalls the more harder edged moments of Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I May See (and it helps that Ms. Van Etten’s voice has some of the same sleepy-eye melodic drawl that Hope Sandoval has made influential, seemingly, only as of late). But that relatively tough beginning soon gives out for the predominantly acoustic “Give Out,” a song of post-relationship reflection on those first inklings of love that stir within, and offering some of the more sharp instances of the kind of one-sided conversation that folk tunes tend to have: “I’m biting my lip / as confidence is speaking to me. / I loosen my grip from my palm / put it on your knee.” And that’s before she admits to her lover, “you’re the reason I’ll move to the city / or why I’ll need to leave.” [...]”