Sweden based Norwegian artist Ane Brun’s new album After the Great Storm will be your perfect introduction to a unique artist, if you’re not already familiar with her work. And if you do know about her music, you’re still in for a surprise!
Honey is in many ways the perfect opening track for the new album. With a recording of her own voice at the age of 18, originally sent as a audio letter to a pen pal, counting “en-to-tre-fir” (one-two-three-four in Norwegian) we are taken straight into an amazingly beautiful and catchy song in trip-hop territory. It just sucks you into the album.
On the other hand: The song ends with Ane saying goodbye, and with a wordless vocal line, the song ends. This would have been a perfect way to end the album, at least for those versed in Norwegian.
But that’s just splitting hairs. Because Ane is continuing her musical development on this, her first album of new material in five years. It doesn’t feel like it’s been five years, because Ane has this special ability to stay relevant and visible. She’s accomplished this with a cover album, live albums, concerts (among them an awe strikingly beautiful gig at Moldejazz this year) and with the use of her songs in a whole range of TV shows and movies, as well as for fundraisers and other causes.
Honey isn’t quite as electronic as the title track. On the latter, it’s like Royksopp has visited the studio (just check out the synth line at the start, which fades in and out during the song) and with added strings it’s like producer Nelle Hopper (Björk, Massive Attack, Madonna) popped in from the mid-90s. The lyrics are also worth studying, especially for those of us who have gone through hard times in life, only to appear wiser and stronger afterwards. I get goosebumps just thinking about this song, which is as close to a masterpiece as you’re going to get.
Don’t Run and Hide is one of several songs from this album that has been released as digital singles this year. And it’s a great revisit to do. The electronic sound is on full display, mixed with beautiful vocal harmonies, especially in the chorus.
Crumbs is probably the most straight forward pop song on this record, even if the chorus really doesn’t appear until the end of the song (“I want in”). The production helps building up a sound that includes even more vocal harmonies (Jennie Abramson and Linnea Olsson sings on the album), and it’s also one of the few tracks where you can hear hints of Ane actually using five drummers. On the rest of the album they are more subdued, unless it’s just that the production has made them sound like electronic drums.
Feeling Like I Wanna Cry was released last spring and it was the song that convinced me that the upcoming Ane Brun album would be awesome. There’s a lot of strings on the record, and they are out in full force here, especially the cello.
On Take Hold of Me we are once again over in Röyksopp territory, with EDM like sounds fading in and out behind the vocals. You’ve never heard Ane like this before, unless you’ve listened to the many EDM and electronica remixes of her songs that are out there (there’s a Spotify playlist full of them). This is the song I just can’t leave after it’s finished. I have to click on the Back button of my player at least once before I move on to the next track, Fingerprints.
And that’s a song that starts in a very conventional way, with handclaps and a bassline that leads us over into the world of soul. The way Ane Brun’s sings this song also leads the thoughts in that direction. The strings are once again here in full force, and there are several layers of vocals. And those lyrics! About loss, longing and the ones that’s no longer with you who left their fingerprints in your life. There are actually some Norwegian artists who can write English lyrics without sounding like imbeciles. This is so beaaaauuuutiiiifuuuull!
On The Waiting we are once again over in a Björk landscape ala Post, with a dash of Tangerine Dream-like sequencer liens that are weaved into the background. The song is slowly building, until you are hit by a wall of sound towards the end. It’s very effective, and I can imagine that this will be an out of body experience during future concerts.
The album ends with We Need a Mother, where we are completely over in an electronic world ala 1997. There’s a ton of processed sounds and instruments. The strings, especially, sounds like what a lot of bands were up to back in those days. Even so, the song has a timeless feel to it, not least the lyrics which perfectly describes the state of the world today. And just like that, the album is over. And I’m left thinking: – I’m gonna start over and listen to it again.
A lot has been said and written, not least by Ane herself, about the fact that this album is inspired by the death of her father, the way she came to terms with her Lupus condition, Covid-19, the world situation and getting through dark times, that I won’t dwell anymore on it.
Because it’s up to you what you want to get out of this album. But one thing’s for sure: Together with co-producers Martin Hederos (who also co-wrote several of the songs) and Anton Sundell she’s created an album that begs you to listen to it. And you should. It’s a masterpiece!
PS! Just one month until her next album will be out!