For certain New Jersey musicians, it’s a rite of passage to cover the state’s living rock legend, Bruce Springsteen. And playing one of his songs at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony, a stage Springsteen has made his home since the mid-’70s, is perhaps the next best thing to playing with the Boss himself. Rising singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, a Clifton native, got that very opportunity, performing the aching “Drive All Night” from 1980’s The River for the A.V. Club’s “Pioneering” series.
Van Etten, like Glen Hansard, scales back the rock balladry, with just a light piano set against her stunning vocal arrangement. As in the original, there is a raw quality to Van Etten’s vocals that brings the song home, cracks and all.