Are We There, Sharon Van Etten’s 2014 album, was pretty damn good. It’s something of a surprise to see any kind of release follow up so quickly, but here it is and that’s no bad thing. I Don’t Want To Let You Down feels like more of the same mood that Van Etten was trying to capture on Are We There, with her still mixing up piano and guitars, although since 2012’s Tramp, guitar has played much less of a pivotal role in Van Etten’s music compared to earlier releases. However, despite this, the first taster, the self-titled song, had a driving acoustic guitar and an america-influenced solo with a sound that could have easily been on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. The lyrics are as personal as ever, with Van Etten singing ‘Don’t shout it, say / I don’t want to let you down’ in her inimitable voice. Unfortunately, the EP doesn’t really live up to the quality of the first song.
‘I Always Fall Apart’, a piano-led song that sounds very similar to the melody of ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’ from Are We There. Van Etten sings ‘It’s not my fault / it’s my flaw, it’s who I am’ and the lyrics are beautifully written, but the song just floats by without a trace, only backed by strings that occasionally dive in and out but are sometimes lost behind the piano. Unlike ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’, which sounded like a hazy home recording, ‘I Always Fall Apart’ doesn’t have the heart-tugging quality that its rival has. ‘Tell Me’ has similarities with the early songs on Are We There, beginning as an electric guitar-led track before extra instrumentation comes into to flesh the track out. The vocals stick out on this track the most, but then again, Sharon Van Etten doesn’t really have a bad day when it comes to vocal delivery. The organ propels the track along and as the song draws to a close it’s reduced to Van Etten’s voice and applause from the audience. I Don’t Want To Let You Down is a reminder of Van Etten’s existence in the sphere of singer-songwriters, but fails to stand on its own feet and ends up sounding like the B-Sides of Are We There. It’s understandable, as the EP is being released very shortly after the album and lingering moods and styles and likely to reappear. The EP is pleasant, but it’s just that.