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Vulnerability can be a tricky thing for a singer to manage; there’s always a risk of sounding too cloying, as if on the verge of emotional collapse. New Jersey’s Sharon Van Etten sounds vulnerable, but her voice comes with an air of defiance. Her 2012 album, Tramp, showcased her formidable vocal talents, and on songs like “Leonard” and “All I Can,” she plainly sang about how she’s often at fault in her own romantic entanglements. Her most recent album, Are We There, is more ambitious in its lyrical themes and musicianship. The standout track, “Your Love Is Killing Me,” would be downright heartbreaking if the instrumentations didn’t include a catchy piano melody and a rush of steady percussion. Between her songs’ searing guitar licks and intense vocals, Van Etten is poised to win some new fans at her 9:30 Club show. Are We There continues to earn all sorts of critical attention, so take this chance to see her before she gets too big for the city’s best venue. Sharon Van Etten performs with Jana Hunter at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $18. (202) 265-0930. 930.com.