Sharon Van Etten’s best move may have been getting the hell out of Nashville.
“I moved to New York because I needed to feel productive and have really motivated people around me,” said Van Etten, who was born in New Jersey but spent much of her teens and early 20s in Tennessee.
“Down South, it was so cheap to live, you didn’t have to work that hard, whereas in New York, rent is so much, people do more than one thing here — they have a job and are artists or musicians and have to work really hard to stay here. I like that.”
Since moving back north six years ago, that’s certainly been the case for Van Etten. She’s sung on The Antlers’ “Hospice,” recorded backup vocals for Swedish pop star Anna Ternheim, toured and collaborated with Megafaun, and hooked up with Fort Greene-based Ba Ba Bing Records as a publicist and to release her own music.
Her newest album, the seven-track “Epic,” is out this month, with a release show at the Rock Shop on Oct. 8.
For years, Van Etten’s gone solo, her lovelorn, heartfelt tracks made even more vulnerable by this tiny singer on the stage with just a guitar. As of late, she’s been backed by a band and vocals, a direction she’s going to stick with, though her folk hasn’t lost any of its beauty or intimacy.
“I’m still figuring out how to write as a band,” said Van Etten. “I feel really comfortable and confident with the band, and am definitely going to try this out for a while.”
Van Etten already has her sights set on her next album, as she’s looking to head back into the studio over the next few months in between tour stints across the country, Canada and Japan. When she is in town, you can find her walking around Greenpoint (“Every day feels like Sunday over there”), watching new bands at Zebulon, and enjoying the soul food at the Commodore in Williamsburg, a new bar run by a couple of her friends in what was formerly Black Betty.
“I go there a lot, it’s probably dangerous, they have really good food,” said Van Etten. “They cleaned up the place so it doesn’t smell like sweat anymore.”
Sharon Van Etten at the Rock Shop [249 Fourth Ave. between President and Carroll streets in Park Slope, (718) 230-5730], Oct. 8 at 8 pm. Tickets $12. For info, visit www.therockshopny.com.