In 2009, Van Etten released Because I Was in Love; produced by Weeks and released on his Language of Stone imprint. The album kept Van Etten's songs stark and spooky, with the songwriter's double-tracked harmonizing on every line, and teasing out every syllable.
That year, Van Etten also sang on The Antlers' breakout record Hospice, which was universally lauded as one of the albums of 2009.
By 2010, Van Etten's music was attracting notable listeners: both Bon Iver and The National covering Van Etten songs live. A Take Away Show performance, an opening-act slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and a support stint for José González's band Junip all increased Van Etten's profile.
This lead to the release of Van Etten's second LP, Epic. The album found Van Etten shaking off any nervousness and delivering a commanding set punctuated by the stark naked "Love More," a tale of being kept prisoner in a relationship set only to a wheezing harmonium.
Following the release of Epic, Van Etten found herself playing gradually larger shows; opening for The Antlers, The National, and Neko Case, and collaborating on stage with Megafaun and Bon Iver. On Bon Iver's recommendation, she signed to Jagjaguwar, and delivered 2012's Tramp.
Produced by Aaron Dessner of The National —and featuring members of The National, The Walkmen, Wye Oak, and Julianna Barwick— tramp was a grander, more ambitious, more rockin' set; with electric guitars and orchestral swells backing Van Etten's sad songs.