Sharon Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow comes four years after Are We There, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. Throughout Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force. With curling low vocals and brave intimacy, Remind Me Tomorrow is an ambitious album that provokes our most sensitive impulses: reckless affections, spirited nurturing, and tender courage.
"I wrote this record while going to school, pregnant, after taking the OA audition,” says Van Etten. "I met Katherine Dieckmann while I was in school and writing for her film. She’s a true New Yorker who has lived in her rent controlled west village apartment for over 30 years. Her husband lives across the hall. They raised two kids this way. When I expressed concern about raising a child as an artist in New York City, she said ‘you're going to be fine. Your kids are going to be fucking fine. If you have the right partner, you’ll figure it out together.'” Van Etten goes on, “I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress, go to school, but yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair and I feel like a mess, but I'm here. Doing it. This record is about pursuing your passions." The reality is Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between myriad endeavors — Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, and brought her music onstage in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. Off-screen, she wrote her first score for Katherine Dieckmann’s movie Strange Weather and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show Tig. She goes on, “The album title makes me giggle. It occurred to me one night when I, on auto- pilot, clicked 'remind me tomorrow' on the update window that pops up all the time on my computer. I hadn't updated in months! And it's the simplest of tasks!”
The songs on Remind Me Tomorrow have been transported from Van Etten’s original demos through John Congleton’s arrangement. Congleton helped flip the signature Sharon Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative. “ "I was feeing overwhelmed. I couldn't let go of my recordings - I needed to step back and work with a producer." She continues, “I tracked two songs as a trial run with John [Jupiter 4 and Memorial Day]. I gave him Suicide, Portishead, and Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree as references and he got excited. I knew we had to work together. It gave me the perspective I needed. It’s going to be challenging for people in a good way." The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s sound.
For Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten put down the guitar. When she was writing the score for Strange Weather her reference was Ry Cooder, so she was playing her guitar constantly and getting either bored or getting writer's block. At the time, she was sharing a studio space with someone who had a synthesizer and an organ, and she wrote on piano at home, so she naturally gravitated to keys when not working on the score - to clear her mind. Remind Me Tomorrow shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. It was “reverb universe” she says of the writing. There are intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium.
The demo version of “Comeback Kid” was originally a piano ballad, but driven by Van Etten's assertion that she "didn't want it to be pretty", it evolved into a menacing anthem. Cavernous drones pull the freight for “Memorial Day,” which fleshes out an introvert in warrior mode. The spangled “Seventeen” began as a Lucinda Williams-esque dirge but wound up more of a nod to Bruce Springsteen, exploring gentrification and generational patience. Van Etten shows the chain reaction, of moving to a city bright-eyed and hearing the elders complain about the city changing, and then being around long enough to know what they were talking about. She wrote the song semi-inter-generationally with Kate Davis, who sang on a demo version when the song was in its infancy.
Since her last album, Van Etten has had a young son, and family life is joyful. Preparing and finishing these songs, she found herself expressing deep doubts about the world around him, and a complicated need to present a bright future for him. “There is a tear welling up in the back of my eye as I’m singing these love songs,” she says, “I am trying to be positive. There is strength to them. It’s— I wouldn’t say it’s a mask, but it’s what the parents have to do to make their kid feel safe.”
Alongside working on Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten has been exploring her talents (musical, emotional, otherwise) down other paths. She’s continuing to act, to write scores and soundtrack contributions, and she’s returning to school for psychology. The breadth of these passions, of new careers and projects and lifelong roles, have inflected Remind Me Tomorrow with a wise sense of a warped-time perspective. This is the tension that arches over the album, fusing a pained attentive realism and radiant lightness about new love.
'Little Oblivions' is Julien Baker’s third album and follow-up to 2017’s 'Turn Out The Lights’, both on Matador Records. The New York Times said the ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is “the work of a songwriter who has resonated with an international audience (…), the rare second album that, despite new self-consciousness, stretches beyond an unspoiled debut to reach for even bigger things, with all its passion intact”. The Sunday Times said “the mix of detached vocals, lush arrangements and laid-bare post-mortems on love, loss, dysfunction and acceptance is devastating."
In 2018, Baker formed boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. The resulting eponymous EP and joint North American tour made for one of the most celebrated and talked about musical communions of that year, highlighting Baker at the forefront of a burgeoning generation of era-defining artists.
Baker shot to worldwide attention in 2015 with show-stopping debut, Sprained Ankle. Recorded in only a few days, it was a bleak yet hopeful meditation on identity, addiction, faith, resilience and redemption. An intense and immersive performer, her live shows were described by The New Yorker as “…. hushed, reverential. The only sounds you hear between songs are her fingers as she tweaks the tuning on her electric guitar, scattered whispers between friends, and the rustling as the crowd waits patiently for Baker to start strumming again”.
Baker has collaborated on studio recordings with Frightened Rabbit, Matt Berninger, Hayley Williams, Becca Mancari, Mary Lambert, and on stage with Justin Vernon, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Ben Gibbard, and others.
"With [‘Little Oblivions’] she scales her music up to larger spaces, backed by a full rock band with ringing guitars and forceful drums. But she doesn’t hide behind them; she’s still ruthless and unsparing, particularly about herself." NEW YORK TIMES
"Julien Baker is back with a stunning new solo album. Little Oblivions chronicles the missteps in life that can fill you with regret but also (hopefully) help you grow and be better." NPR MUSIC
"Unruly, complex, and gorgeous." THE NEW YORKER
"She’s rendering the details of her life with new clarity, crafting songs that anyone who struggles will recognize. And with “Little Oblivions,” she’s found a newly vivid musical setting that should help these stories reach more people who need them." WALL STREET JOURNAL
"Julien Baker's songwriting -- her showcasing of the minuscule details comprising her life and informing her sense of introspection -- will make any project she works on a must-listen; simply put, there are few artists working today with her stinging force. " BILLBOARD
"On her third album, Julien Baker’s self-lacerating storytelling gets a more expansive canvas to work with. The big, full-band sound makes all the small moments of pain surreptitiously devastating. “ PITCHFORK
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