Sharon Van Etten told Wondering Sound her exquisite new album, Are We There, is “about my relationship now, about my struggle with pursuing music as a career … about trying to learn how to balance the two, and asking [myself] if it’s possible.” The title of “Our Love,” Van Etten’s second video selection from the album after “Taking Chances,” might ordinarily suggest a straightforward, romantic ballad, but ambiguity and self-questioning lurk behind the spindly, drum machine-underpinned backing. “You say I am genuine / I see your backhand again,” she begins, and — the refrain’s insistence “it’s our love” aside — the lyrical preconceptions get darker from there.
So as tempting as it might be to describe director Karen Collins’ “Our Love” video as “genuine,” it’s the carefully constructed presentation of intimacy that deserves commending here. Van Etten calmly sings the lyrics in a bed, shot in black-and-white, and then stares directly at the camera for the closing repetition, “our love” bleeding into “all love.” Collins told V Magazine, which premiered and co-produced the video: “On set I felt like a privileged witness to something very personal. For greater intimacy, she closes her eyes for the most part of the video, but Sharon has the most beautiful eyes in the world, so there was some sadness in doing this. Luckily, she opens them in the end.”
Check out Van Etten’s tour dates here.