Midway through her set of hazy, lilting folk ballads at DC9 on Wednesday night, Marissa Nadler paused to address her new technique for dealing with stage fright, having decided that drinking a bottle of wine before each show wasn’t the best idea. “I think that feeling every nerve is better than being completely obliterated,” she observed, her voice a barely audible whisper. By way of contrast, the night’s headliner, Sharon Van Etten, seemed to have confidence to spare, trading jokes and observations with the audience even as she worked her way though some pretty devastating songs. Kicking off her performance backed by a full band, she previewed tracks from her excellent forthcoming LP, epic. During the second half of her set, she performed solo, turning her focus toward older tracks and covers. And while there was a marked difference between the rollicking new songs and the stripped down old ones, Van Etten’s powerfully mournful voice and knack for writing emotionally incisive songs shone through throughout.
Sharon Van Etten