Sharon Van Etten is an artist that is willing to transfer her own expression into many differing forms. As able to embody the work and worries of another as her own and provide a new and engaging viewpoint. A testament to that skill is her latest song ‘Let Go’.
The song was written by Van Etten for Feels Good Man, a documentary about the internet meme Pepe the Frog that premieres this Friday. The track may be attached to a movie, a Sundance Award-winning film at that, but it stands up in its own right as a cracking piece of work.
The film will look back at how Pepe, the unwitting illustrative creation, went from being the face of an indie comic character to an internet meme and then onwards to be co-opted by the alt-right in the mid-2010s. Naturally, the film focuses on its creator, Matt Furie and sees the illustrator begin to claim back his design from the right-wing trolls while revisiting the impact the character has had.
What Van Etten does so seamlessly is to effectively bring all of these elements into her song. The track brings the weariness of Furie’s fight to reclaim his character, revisits the darkest moments of that fight and then the reprieve of the film’s ultimate conclusion.
“After watching the documentary, I just followed the feeling of coming to terms with something and tried to evoke peace through my melody and words,” Van Etten said in a statement. “The song and film’s producer, Giorgio [Angelini], was a great collaborator and communicator and I was given a lot of freedom. That says a lot about the film and the people who made it.”
A dream-pop joy that only Van Etten is capable of accomplishing with authenticity. While the song’s structure may have worked a little more succinctly with Van Etten’s own truth at the forefront of the track, there’s something special about her embellishing another story with her own choice of words.
For that reason alone, the song is one of Van Etten’s better efforts.