Words: Amy Keresztes

In the vice grip of winter, with the Swedish chill and frost making each day a struggle, what’s a woman to do besides hunker down with piles of books and hours of great music? This month has seen a flood of really wonderful records on rotation in my room, some new, some rediscovered. Chairlift! The new Atlas Sound! The new Leonard Cohen! Everything White Denim has ever done! – but let’s focus on one song that provides unmatched warmth, the song “Leonard” from the new Sharon Van Etten album “Tramp.”

Having a somewhat permanent crush on Leonard Cohen as well as a good friend called Leonard, I was hooked before even hearing it. Van Etten’s voice is warm, rich, substantive, and soaring, and I am always struck by her vocal modesty; she leaves a tremendous impression without too much braggadocio.

On this record, and in this song, her sound– influenced of late by Julianna Barwick, Lower Dens, and Wye Oak, according to her– is unique yet hauntingly familiar. The momentum gathered by the soft, shuffling drums and the transporting vocal harmonies builds to a delicately unresolved final moment.

It’s really a stunning track, the kind of melancholic yet liberating sound that knocks you flat on your back but lets you get back up and continue, a little bit better for having heard it. And a great deal warmer.


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