Singled Out: Sharon Van Etten, 'We Are Fine' (NPR Music)


With her first two records, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten made a name for herself as a stunningly despondent, often heartbroken artist. She's worked, however, to see the silver linings, and on her third album, Tramp, Van Etten has expanded her repertoire.

"We Are Fine" is her most optimistic song yet. Van Etten struggles with social anxiety and panic attacks, though she's figured out ways to manage them — one of them is asking a friend to talk to her. As she was working on "We Are Fine" she realized she wanted the song to be closer to the way she experiences an attack, by adding a voice. "We Are Fine" is a duet with Beirut's Zach Condon, who has social anxiety, too. Over the course of two phone interviews, Van Etten shared the story behind her serene track with me.

She says she wrote "We Are Fine" on a ukulele long before Condon ever became involved. It's the conversation between the two of them, though, that makes the song so comforting.

Read my interview with Sharon Van Etten here.
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