Intimacy reigns supreme on Sharon Van Etten’s debut, which finds the folksinger crooning her melodies over beds of acoustic guitar, keyboard, and overdubbed harmonies. Her lyrics are the stuff of heartbreak and uncertainty -- “I wish I knew what to do with you” she laments during the first track, and later refers to herself as a lover’s “consolation prize” -- but her performances are confident, both simple in their delivery and subtle in their emotional punch. Because I Was in Love isn’t a bare-boned folk album; rather, it’s the sort of record that unfolds its layers with repeated listens, and the arrangements are often gorgeously lush without threatening to overpower Van Etten’s alto.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey