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PARIS (Reuters) - Even when things don't go her way -- from on-stage technical glitches to complicated relationships -- American singer Sharon Van Etten remains cheerful.
You might not guess that by listening to "I Love You But I'm Lost", "Your Love Is Killing Me" or "Afraid Of Nothing" -- three of the 11 songs from her fourth CD, the mid-tempo confessional opus "Are We There".
It is the 33-year-old's emotive, strong and deep voice -- for which back-up singer Heather Woods Broderick's sweet tones provide the perfect counterpoint -- that is the potting soil of her work.
Van Etten, whose effortless ballads are reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's, draws inspiration from her dark moments, which she presents in "alternative love songs".
"It is draining but healing. It comes from a therapeutic place," the Brooklyn-born Van Etten said of her song-writing process.
She does not dive into the abyss, she gets out of it by writing.
"I only write when I am in a dark place. So writing naturally lifts me out of that place so I can be the positive, upbeat person I naturally am when I have my outlet," Van Etten told Reuters recently.
Others, like her friend Adam Granduciel from the band "The War on Drugs", even call her a "goofball".
"I am definitely not tortured, for the record," she said.
Van Etten has been highly rated by Pitchfork and Rolling Stone magazines, Uncut had 10 pages on her last month and she toured with Nick Cave last year. She beat Leonard Cohen and Neil Young in Mojo’s list of 50 top albums of the year.
At a Paris concert earlier this month Van Etten had some technical problems including feedback and her performance did not match that of last May's in the French capital.
But those who had not seen her before appeared seduced. A couple of unrecorded songs -- a Karen Dalton unfinished song and "I Don't Want to Let You Down", which did not make it to the album -- further showed off her on-stage talent.
Van Etten, who grew up to the Everly Brothers' harmonies and was a 10-year-old Neil Young fan, will be touring again in 2015, starting in Brooklyn, on Feb. 18.
She winds up the London on April 29 after concerts in Australia, New Zealand and continental Europe.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Michael Roddy and xxxxx xxxxxxxx