Review : Ane Brun - It All Starts With One
PopmattersAn 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. Her 2008 album Changing of the Seasons was no exception, even raising her profile in the English-speaking world, but her silence since then has robbed her of momentum. With little in the way of fanfare, Brun starts again with It All Starts With One.
This new beginning, it turns out, is an unpredictable one. While first single “Do You Remember” was jaunty, upbeat and built largely of drums, it is also completely unrepresentative of its parent album. Instead, the bulk of these songs switch the nimble songwriting of Seasons for a grand but languid command of mood. Gone is the accessibility of a song like “The Puzzle”, replaced by the pendulous six minutes of “Worship”, featuring a less-than-integral guest spot by José González. Brun’s acoustic formula and songwriting smarts are still here; she has just taken the decision to move into darker, less familiar, and even more subdued territory. It is a risky move, and one that pays off only in certain respects.
Brun’s music has always felt calculated and restrained, but she now orchestrates the songs so deliberately that they frequently sound born to the grave, mummified in their own production. After piano and acoustic guitar, strings are the most important instrumental feature of the record and as expertly arranged as they are, they introduce a kind of coldness that can come between us and the feelings of the songs. More damagingly, there is scarcely a single hook to be found on the album’s ten songs. Put simply, It All Starts With One is Ane Brun in accessibility meltdown....full text
ExystenceAne Brun was moving out of the traditional singer-songwriter suit as early as the last album, Changing of the Seasons, and Tobias Froberg completes that trip, and It All Starts With One allows for his own sound to be taken to a new level. He hired two drummers, Per Eklund (Lykke Li, Miike Snow) and Ola Hultgren (Loney Dear, thus Owls) to play together on most of the album’s songs. Martin Hederos (Soundtrack of Our Lives, Tonbruket) was behind the organs. A large part of what takes place in the musical arrangements is due to the interaction between the evocative rhythm section and Hederos’ soaring piano. Froberg only wanted bass on a single song, creating space and movement for Ane’s exceptional voice, which was flanked by, among …
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…others, the sisters from First Aid Kid (Do You Remember) and José González (Worship).Some of the songs were completed by January 2011, but most have been written in Ane’s writing studio in Stockholm in the January / February period of 2011. It was at this time that the Arab revolution started and Ane spoke of how affected she was by the courage and energy that people showed the world.It All Starts With One explored the dynamics involved in trying to find balance between embracing the independent without feeling lonely, and to keep oneself and ones core intact, whilst wanting to help someone in need. The album also includes a encouraged dose of passionate love, a celebration of language, a carnival of words and an attempt at reconciliation....full text
BbcThere 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. There can be little argument that it also represents her best, too.
The darkness is one which sits there, shoulder-to-shoulder with an equally inherent coldness. And it is this coldness which comes across in the physical distance between the album's component parts. It is almost as though many of the songs were recorded with instruments in different, distant corners of a spacious church hall, thus giving those mournful words a partner.
A noticeable change from 2008's Changing of the Seasons can be heard in the orchestral touches found throughout. Though the lyrics and Brun's voice form a firm base, these nuances take the record towards something much greater than its predecessor. The strings add depth to the arrangements, but it's the percussive embellishments which set the pace, being used to superb effect in the galloping One, and likewise in the painful lament The Light From One. They may be pushed to the margins of the mix, and diminutive in nature, but as well as establishing the tempo they are also tone-setters, reinforcing a range of expressed emotions.
Having released an entire record of duets six years ago, it is no surprise that they are plentiful here, too. Brun combines with José González for the dark, brooding and cinematic Worship – where restfulness somehow feels like a positive, perfectly matching the album's overall feel. That is directly followed by the most buoyant passage – one of very few – in Do You Remember, as Swedish folk-sisters First Aid Kit provide a suitable foil, beneath tribal drumming and other peripheral delicacies. ...full text
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