Ane Brun: Songs 2003 - 2013

Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun has been in the music business for ten years, and Songs is a fine selection from her work so far.

Ane Brun

Songs 2003 - 2013

Label: Balloon Ranger Recordings
US Release Date: 2013-09-10
UK Release Date: 2013-09-10

The last ten years have been quite momentous for Ane Brun. Born Ane Brunvoll in Molde, Norway in 1976, she has in that time become one of Scandinavia's foremost singer-songwriters, won three prestigious Spellemannprisen awards, and become a fixture on her country's charts. Her sort-of-double album It All Starts With One was delayed by Brun's touring commitments with Peter Gabriel, but upon release in 2011 cracked the Swedish charts and felt like a mature artistic statement from a confident, established artist. To mark her ten years in the music world, Brun is releasing Songs 2003 – 2013, a hefty selection from her back catalogue, as well as a previously-unannounced Rarities set.

Brun's work has never been the easiest to critique, as her serious and often pensive music tends to demand a good deal of repeated listens to fully appreciate. Songs is no exception, especially as it collects a generous 32 tracks drawn both from her albums – from 2003's Spending Time With Morgan to It All Starts With One – and a number of live cuts, alternate versions, and recordings from other projects. The sheer length and breadth of the collections means that Songs may not be the most ideal introduction to Brun's work (her international breakthrough Changing of the Seasons would probably be a safer bet) but it does provide a good way for those who are somewhat more familiar to dig deeper in.

Songs reflects the dominance of one type of song over Brun's career to date – that of tender, observant love songs built around Brun's voice and guitar and enlivened with strings or piano. Everything in this mode is beautifully recorded and played, and much of it stands up well even if Brun circa 2003 is obviously not at the height of her powers. Where this collection really shines, however, is in its very well-chosen selection of those songs on which Brun has experimented outside her natural mode.

Among these are the superb cover of Cyndi Lauper's “True Colors”, which was originally merely a bonus track on Seasons before it was rescued from obscurity by a TV advert. Two fragile but slightly more fast-paced highlights from Seasons also appear in the form of “The Puzzle” and “Ten Seconds”, the latter in a stripped-down form recorded for the Sketches album. Here, Brun benefits from experimenting with something a little more immediate than usual, and the songs make for a pleasant change of pace. Elsewhere, she sounds even more emotional than usual on the the fine non-English efforts “Alfonsina y el Mar” and “Du Grater Sa Store Tara”, sung in Spanish and Norwegian respectively. The latter is a particularly fine and delicate piano ballad, probably an improvement on the English recording on It All Starts With One.

Brun has recorded many duets over the years, but of the several that appear here only one really withstands repeated listens. Her appearance on Peter Gabriel's “Don't Give Up” is very slight, but she very nearly matches Kate Bush's original performance – it is hardly surprising that Gabriel was so keen on Brun accompanying him on the tour that supported the New Blood album on which this recording originally appeared.

While not the ideal introduction to Ane Brun's fine body of work, Songs is certainly an excellent way to collect a good number of her most interesting songs in one place. The somewhat bloated and slightly confused nature of It All Starts With One implied that this kind of retrospective was what Brun needed – here's to hoping she has another equally intriguing ten years ahead.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.