Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Play It Again Sam
I first encountered Norwegian singer/songwriter Ane Brun on art-rock master Peter Gabriel’s orchestral New Blood tour. While I was slightly put off by her contributions to Gabriel’s massive tunes (Brun’s quivery, operatic voice felt odd replacing the subtly ethereal Kate Bush vocal on duet “Don’t Give Up”), I was intrigued by her opening slot—a brief yet sultry tease in which Brun wowed a jaw-dropped Chicago stadium, beating out time on an acoustic guitar, her singular voice soaring to the rafters. There was something visceral and haunting about her live presentation—something old-fashioned and mystical, as if Brun accidentally time-traveled onto the stage from another century.
Fresh from her stint as backing vocalist on Peter Gabriel's New Blood tour, Swedish-based Norwegian singer/songwriter Ane Brun's fifth studio album, It All Starts with One, unequivocally adheres to the less-is-more approach to folk-pop music. Indeed, despite the presence of not one but two drummers, Per Eklund (Lykke Li) and Ola Hultgren (Loney Dear), Tobias Fröberg's spacious atmospheric production is so minimal that you could often hear a pin drop, particularly on the fragile acoustic ballads "Lifeline" and "Oh Love," which showcase Brun's trembling shimmering vocals at their most captivating, and the heart-wrenching finale, "Undertow. " Even on the more expansive-sounding moments, Brun's distinctive vocals remain the focus, effortlessly flitting between Kate Bush-style banshee on the tribal-tinged lead single, "Do You Remember," to delicate torch singer accompanied by the faint pounding drums and hushed piano chords of "What's Happening with You and Him," to cabaret chanteuse on the dramatic cello strings and castanet rhythms of "One," a slightly theatrical number inspired by the recent revolutions in the Middle East.
An idiosyncratic use of the English language, a seemingly impenetrable mystique, and songs that balance emotional expressiveness with a kind of northerly chill—when it comes to Scandinavian singer-songwriters, Ane Brun ticks many of the boxes. While in recent years contemporaries of hers like Robyn or Lykke Li have built increasingly successful pop careers on these foundations, Brun has always been different. More a serious chanteuse than a pop princess, she has nevertheless found a warm response in her native Norway.
Glimmers with subtle brilliance all the way through. Luke Slater 2011 There has always been an element of darkness in Ane Brun's music. It may never be overbearing but it has been ever-present, nevertheless. On her fifth full-length release, It All Starts With One, things are no different, and we find a record as compact and focused as this Norwegian has ever produced.