Sharon Van Etten is particularly skilled at pulling on past experiences and turning them into nostalgic life lessons within her songs. At first, it might seem a little unfitting for her raw and atmospheric voice to appear on the soundtrack of a movie about internet memes, but that reflective, coming-of-age ambiance of Van Etten is a fitting tool to help convey the overarching message of the film Feels Good Man.  

Her single, “Let Go,” is featured in the documentary that discusses the widely popular meme Pepe The Frog and its adoption as a symbol of the alt-right movement. The film focuses on Pepe’s creator, Matt Furie, and his process of letting go of his well-intended character while simultaneously making efforts to prevent its use in a hateful manner. Van Etten channeled the film’s theme in her description of the track’s inspiration, “After watching the documentary, I followed the feeling of coming to terms with something and tried to evoke peace through my melody and words. I hope that resonates with you.”

Sharon Van Etten | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

“Let Go” initially feels a bit simpler in its darker composition, but the track has a cinematic build up that continues to add flairs of drums, keys, and guitars that pick up a faster pace near the songs ending. Van Etten’s voice takes on several styles of delivery throughout the track, ranging from what subtle yet beautifully effortless lines, to powerful belts that close out the track.

Last month, Van Etten released a string of songs, including her cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” for a National Suicide Prevention month project, “Song That Found Me At The Right Time.” She also released a digital version of her 2015 track “All Over Again,” and made an appearance on Bandcamp’s Good Music To Avert The Collapse of The American Democracy.

Listen to “Let Go” below and hear it in Feels Good Man, airing on October 19 via PBS.