Scandinavia has had its share of success stories in the music world, from A-ha in the ’80s to the Cardigans in the ’90s and most recently a fjordful of quieter artists including Kings of Convenience and Sondre Lerche. Now you can add to that list Ane Brun, an artist born in Norway, living in Sweden and voiced from heaven. You wouldn’t know that Ane is from Scandinavia just by listening to her songs. In fact, Ms. Brun has a voice that you would swear is straight out of ’30s or ’40s folk, warbly and without a hint of accent. She’s already a household name in her native lands, with her albums going platinum in Norway. A Temporary Dive was actually released in 2004 in Europe, but went unnoticed in the United States. V2 has had the album remixed and remastered, with a bonus track from the album, Duets, included, featuring Ane with countryman Syd Matters.
Like Björk, Feist, and other similar artists, most of Ane Brun’s magic lies in her voice. That’s not to say there’s nothing to be said about the music. Collaborator Katharina Nuttall’s arrangements are exquisite. But Brun’s vocals are the key to A Temporary Dive. At times sounding like Ani DiFranco when she’s at her contemplative best, or like Fiona Apple when she hearkens back to times beyond her years, Brun’s gentle voice is like a female version of Nick Drake, said and meditative while mesmerizing and entertaining. At other times, Brun can warble like Devendra Banhart, which might make for a truly stunning duet. Forget Joanna Newsom’s elf on helium delivery, Ane Brun is Devendra’s perfect counterpart. Brun actually features three duets on A Temporary Dive, all of them stunning. Ron Sexsmith pairs up with Brun on “Song No. 6,” a love song she wrote for a friend’s wedding; Faroe Islands’ Teitur makes an appearance on “Rubber & Soul” while Syd Matters rounds out the hat trick with “Little Lights.”
Brun’s lyrics are just as introspective as those of Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell, near to the point of almost too insightful, where we feel like intruders into her personal world. Pain and sadness abound (“My Lover Will Go” and “Where Friend Rhymes with End”), but so too does anger and bitterness (“The Fight Song”) as well as occasional sappiness and beauty (“Song No. 6”). No emotion is left untapped. Brun dreamily wafts her way through each intricate song, as if each song were a soap bubble, afraid that any sudden loud explosion of noise or disruption could cause the filmy bubble to burst. There’s very few artists who can pull off this kind of intimate songwriting and Ane Brun more than just pulls it off, she excels at it.
Ani DiFranco- Out of Range
Joni Mitchell- Blue
Nick Drake- Bryter Layter