Nobody cleaned up quite like Sharon Van Etten cleaned up in the end of years, and the New Joisey gal predominated over ours to an almost discombobulating degree: Tramp was our LP of 2012, whilst a number so newfangled it was then not quite even complete which was shakily aired at her final of four London dates ensured the Shepherd’s Bush Empire show cinched a rather prominent positioning in our Shows of 2012 rundown, too. Picking 2013 up by the scruff with that same firmness of grip with which she throttled all twelve months of 2012, she is to traipse and extensively tour her native US of A in support of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds this coming March, the rejuvenated Antipodean ensemble themselves looking set for a propitious New Year if comeback track We No Who U R transpires to be indicative of anything.
It all seems pretty neat and tidy, therefore, that Van Etten should cover ‘The Bad Seeds’ The Boatman’s Call, and indeed Shrek 2-featured People Ain’t No Good when she swung by Oz FM institution triple j for the first of their Like A Version sessions of this as yet spangly new one. Of course the song title too should’ve made this one an immediate election, given Van Etten’s predilection for condemning neglectful acquaintances via the medium of song, and her subsequent hesitancy to readily confide in prospective partners. Anyhow, as she sings of “bullshit, baby” and fists wrung out in the air she strips away the insouciant, balladeering keys of the original to gently whine away to the harsh twang of roundwound acoustic strings, once again exhibiting her plucky dexterity. However, it’s her vocal versatility which as per assumes the central role within this enchanting rework as she serenades as may a siren one moment, and snarls as only a maltreated Stafford might the next. All in all, it’s yet another quivery chanson to have us questioning as to whether Sharon has ever recorded anything other than the elementarily sublime…
Sharon Van Etten, People Ain’t No Good (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds cover).