Vincent Moon’s days are burning. They disappear quicker than anyone else’s. He gambles his time, rather than spending it or wasting it. It’s hard to keep track of what country he’s in from one day to the next, though you know that wherever he is, ideas will always be spilling forth: scribbled into his notebook, scrawled across his hands, typed onto his battered phone, caught between his hair.
The simplicity of his films tricks you into thinking that such magic can be produced anywhere, anytime. So persistently suggesting that Vincent shoot a new band means sounding like an overzealous matchmaker, always trying to set him up with someone in whatever city he happens to be in at the time – someone, you promise, he’s bound to love…
Like Sharon Van Etten – a bright-eyed but vulnerable folk figure that you suspect has a secret penchant for bad boys, late nights and loud music. Since her first bedroom recordings, Sharon specialises in creating a personal connection with the listener: a moment shared that only ends with the sound of her pressing the stop button in an otherwise empty room. Her voice has a sincere, timeless quality that uses simple phrasing and a sense of urgency to draws you in, whether you’ve experienced heartbreak or not. If she makes a mistake in her live performances, for some reason it makes you smile instead of flinching.
Vincent likes mistakes, accidents and coincidences. His style of shooting is a perfect match for the “sad but perfect” moments in Sharon’s music. So one day in February, after almost a year of gentle reminders, he snuck off to meet her in New York without saying anything. The other magic to Vincent’s films is that they make you want to be there, make you wonder where you were and what you were doing when it was shot. But in a way, it’s better than being there. Real life has never looked so beautiful. The ordinary gains a mystique. These films trick you into thinking you’re sharing a private moment, when really the whole world could be watching too.
So here is Sharon: wrapped up and hidden, her bobbing head disappearing into a golden haze; a stray bead of light flaring through the lens; the Statue of Liberty over her shoulder; the reflection of an old tram trembling in the window of a diner; the sunset captured in her shades; the birds seemingly following the trail of her songs.
It doesn’t matter whether they are her best performances or not. You experience the music by stepping into these in-between moments. You want to know more… and that’s the best introduction anyone can give, because there is plenty to get to know. Her music is waiting for you, welcoming you, not asking where you’ve been all this time.
That’s it, that’s the magic. Another day burned through. Here’s hoping that fire never goes out.
You can watch the ‘uncut’ version (18 minutes) on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/13502285