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"Changing of the Seasons"

Ane Brun – Changing of the Seasons
12 February 2009, 10:00 Written by Andy Johnson
ane-brunOriginally released almost a year ago, Ane Brun's fourth album Changing of the Seasons is only now recieving a UK release. To sweeten the belated deal, we're given two bonus tracks, one of which is an excellent cover of Cyndi Lauper's 1986 hit 'True Colors'. A lengthy, expansive album of acoustic, string-laden pop, this has already been successful on Sweden's album chart, so it remains to be seen this oddly-voiced Norwegian will fare with fickle tastes over here.We expect curious voices from Scandinavian singers, and we usually attribute it to their unsteady grasp on the English language - but as soon as opener 'The Treehouse Song' starts, it's clear that Brun's is a particularly choice example. She seems to skip across the lyrics in a weird, unpredictable way, as if she considers some words barely deserving of being uttered whilst others are of vital importance. It's never distracting or frustrating, though - arguably, it's one of the album's central appeals. She seems able to hold notes forever - we're often turned a moth for her voice's irresistable light. Acoustic guitar work is another of those appeals. It's by far the dominant instrument here, the main brush with which these deeply personal thematic paintings are put together. The stripped-down, delicate sound reminds me of Tina Dico's triple EP set reviewed here a while back - the two are almost strikingly similar at times, but Brun's introspective murk is more persistent than Dico's, shying away from any bulky arrangements and keeping string sections modest and compact. Some of the arrangements here are absolutely exquisite, though - especially on 'The Puzzle', a fantastic and haunting little gem of a song, and on 'Ten Seconds' the bouzouki and backing vocals are just magic. It's a devastating cocktail.My criticisms are few, but it's far to say that Changing of the Seasons is at times dangerously samey, but of course this won't be a problem if you find yourself really enjoying the theme. Some of the more Dylan-esque songs like the title track also outstay their welcome a little, bogging the album down slightly. Nevertheless, this is an accomplished album which should fascinate any fans of frail baroque pop. It's a little inconsistent, but at its best, Changing of the Seasons is superb. 82%Ane Brun on MySpace
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