Ane Brun - Changing of the Seasons

Tim Miller 07/02/2009

Rating: 4/5

You almost certainly know Ane Brun. You might not think you do, but you do. For anyone who watched Sky television at some point towards the end of 2008, Ane Brun is the crystal-clear voice behind the Murdoch enterprise's High Definition adverts, covering Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colours' with dazzlingly fragile grace.

Brun, though, is not a one trick pony, and neither is she an unknown gem. With this, her fifth album, under her belt in her native Norway, of which two have seen US releases, the 33 year-old is if anything a dab hand at eerie glacial singer/songwriting. Changing of the Seasons, though, is Brun's first foray into the UK proper, aided by the timely Sky campaigns, and it's a flawed but gorgeous introduction.

Given enough patience, Ane Brun might appeal to some as a female Bon Iver. Mostly, Changing of the Seasons is stark, guitar-led minimalism - “freak-folk”, apparently, is the term - aided here and there by some lush touches of strings, and delicate, twinkling piano. It opens with perhaps the most commercial offering, in fact, 'The Treehouse Song' being a charming skipalong sung with something of a Dolly Parton trill. It is Brun's delicate, cold and beautiful voice that captivates, not least on the poignant 'The Fall', with added tender harmonies that hint at the ethereal vocals of Bjork or Bat For Lashes.

At 15 tracks, perhaps the album is overlong, with two covers (Lauper's 'True Colours' and 'Big in Japan' by Alphaville) somewhat rescuing a faltering end to Brun's own 13 songs. 'Gillian' is a wonderful paean, but sits in between a couple of tracks that eschew the startlingly haunting folk of the first half of the album in favour of more straightforward acoustic songs. Delivered via Brun's frail vocal and unassuming set up, however, even these possess a certain charm, only lacking in substance by comparison to the engrossing elegance of the early material.

Brun is the antithesis of solo females like Allen, Nash and Adele, a bare, stripped back and uncompromising producer of understated, spectral folk, an at times spellbinding riposte to the ironic, off-kilter and genre-bending pop of today's songstresses. It feels a highly personal album, but this is just what Ane Brun does. It lends itself to introspective, lonely moments, and isn't about to race Emmy the Great to the top of the charts, but deserves praise for its striking, icy quality, and probably overshadowing any other solo album you're likely to get your hands on in 2009.

Released 19th January 2009