Pop & Hiss video premiere: Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Leonard’

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Crazy. In romance, the word is tossed around rather casually. Did you hear? So-and-so is crazy. Male or female, it doesn’t discriminate. Rarer, however, is it actually indicative of behavior that’s unbalanced.

‘Now you’re a coward, sure,’ New York’s Sharon Van Etten sings to a lover walking out the door in ‘Leonard,’ delivering the phrase as if she’s ridding a cigarette of its ash. The narrator, at first, appears to the victim, yet emotions are far more textured than good or evil.


Van Etten’s voice here sways, but as it rocks back and forth at lullaby pace, it’s clear its vessel is standing still. Rhythms brush at increasingly hypnotic guitars, and a violin latches onto the abandonment in the matter-of-fact vocals. ‘Time is what I need,’ Van Etten sings, a truth rather than a plea, and an acknowledgment that it was she who ‘gave less.’ Everyone’s a victim in this emotional prison.

Crazy? Not at all. More like heartachingly complex.

The song is from Van Etten’s third album, ‘Tramp’ (Jagjaguwar), and a video for it was released Wednesday. The clip portrays the drama as something that’s long since passed, its images all sun-stained pale. The video is embedded below, and Van Etten will perform in Los Angeles on March 20 at the Avalon with patiently atmospheric rock band the War On Drugs. Tickets, including surcharges, are $24.50.


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-- Todd Martens