Beauty in Simplicity
Ane Brun’s decade-long career has seen the Norwegian folk artist craft a sound similar to a fusion of Regina Spektor and Of Monsters and Men. Her music definitely has the personality necessary for a successful and unique singer-songwriter, while at the same time maintaining a distinct sound influenced by Scandinavian folk music. Her most recent album Rarities strips down her style to mellow covers of other artists and acoustic one-takes of older songs. While inherently more basic in its formal musical qualities, the album still maintains a personality characteristic of Brun’s portfolio through her distinct and hauntingly beautiful voice.
Among the highlights of the two-disc set is a piano version of her well-known song “Oh Love.” The honesty of Brun’s songwriting comes through with a solo piano accompaniment to create a finished product more down to earth than her production-heavy studio version. Among Brun’s covers on the album, the one that sticks out the most is her string quartet version of “Halo” by Beyoncé, with guest vocals and a cello contribution by Linnea Olsson. Again, though the original song was not written by Brun, her choice to strip down the larger, more commercial version and use strings heightens the importance of the lyrics on the track and provides a fitting medium to hear Brun’s raw vocal talent.
The album is not without its shortcomings, however. Because this is predominantly an acoustic cover album, it offers very little to those who have not previously listened to Brun, and so it shouldn’t be used as an introduction to her work. Additionally, the songs on the first disc quickly become repetitive, and the instrumentation accommodating Brun’s voice could have been more intuitive track by track. Regardless of these flaws, the album does not fail to showcase a very talented artist’s voice and, for Brun’s older fans, it provides something familiar but new.