Sharon Van Etten’s first album in five years starts slow and quiet. Get distracted and you might miss the sensitivity of the words, “We held hands as we said goodbye…”. But it’s not a lament—it is an adult recognition of the sweetness inherent in moving on. “Don’t look back my dear. Just say you tried,” she says on the next song. Even the album title recognizes that we never truly leave the past behind. It accumulates and we must find temporary respite or we will be engulfed by it—like the little child on the cover, playing among the strewn clothes of a neglectful parent.
This is a truly beautiful and haunting record, and the first candidate for best of 2019.