Sharon Van Etten has always been the kind of artist who helps people make sense of the world around them, and her sixth album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, concerns itself with how we feel, mourn, and reclaim our agency when we think the world – or at least, our world – might be falling apart. In considering this, and her own vulnerability, Van Etten creates a stunning meditation on how life’s changes can be both terrifying and transformative. Intensely personal, the LP explores themes such as motherhood, love, fear, what we can and can’t control, and what it means to be human in a world that is wracked by so much trauma.
Unlike Van Etten’s previous albums, no songs are being released from the album prior to the record coming out as the record’s ten tracks are designed to be listened to in order, all at once, so that a much larger story of hope, loss, longing and resilience can be told. This is, in itself, a subtle act of control, but in sharing these songs it remains an optimistic and generous one. There is darkness here but there is much optimism, too, all of it held together by Van Etten’s uncanny ability to both pierce the hearts of her listeners and make them whole again.