Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Sharon Van Etten finds remarkable might in vulnerability, and her latest does what good EPs should: bushwhacks new paths."
Alternative Press - "Her honest voice remains her greatest strength, and she crafts a mixture of vulnerability and assuredness..."
NME (Magazine) - "[W]hen icy guitar turns `Pay My Debts' into one of Van Etten's darkest songs yet, Van Etten's wounds feel incredibly raw."
Paste (magazine) - "I DON'T WANT TO LET YOU DOWN holds up with the rest of Sharon Van Etten's catalog, particularly on the mournful, piano-driven 'I Always Fall Apart'..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "'Pay My Debts' is one of her classic slow-burns, but with an unusually grave synthetic palette."
Photographer: Eric Ryan Anderson.
Like an unreleased side C of the musically mature, thematically searching Are We There, Sharon Van Etten enacts the same tone with repeat co-producer Stewart Lerman, and is lyrically still struggling, coping, and navigating trying relationships on I Don't Want to Let You Down. Some of those relationship problems were caused, she has admitted, by being absent in the pursuit of her music career, a dilemma of self-awareness that provides fodder for much of the five-track EP. In "I Always Fall Apart," accompanied only by wistful piano and strings, she tenderly repeats "It's not my fault/It's just my flaw/It's who I am." The remaining tracks all feature a full band, including rotating guest appearances by her vocal-harmony shadow aka multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick, guitarist Adam Granduciel and bassist Dave Hartley of the War on Drugs, bassist Brad Cook of Megafaun, and drummer Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five, among others, all directing the spotlight toward Van Etten's rock-tender vocals. The self-titled opener has the quickest tempo, most pronounced guitars, and catchiest chorus, but still wails with yearning. The album closes with a seductively imperfect live performance of "Tell Me," an impactful, spaciously arranged rock lament with a far-reaching melody ("I believed you when you shut your eyes and dreamed a dream without me"). Comparisons to Brandi Carlile will continue as Van Etten pushes her vocals here with mourning yodels and sturdy grit over her ever poignant tone. Both strong and vulnerable, I Don't Want to Let You Down is a concise and angst-packed set delivered with emphasis in all the right places. ~ Marcy Donelson