Ane Brun – After The Great Storm: Album Review

Electronic Rhapsody from prolific Scandinavian songstress Ane Brun.

Release Date:  30th October 2020

Label: Balloon Ranger Recordings

Formats: CD / Digital / LP

After The Great Storm marks the first album release of original material from the normally prolific Ane Brun since 2015’s acclaimed When I’m Free.  Hailing from Molde, Norway and resident in Stockholm since 2001, Ane is the daughter of jazz singer/pianist Inger Johanne Brunvoll.  After The Great Storm is her eighth album in a catalogue that includes A Temporary Dive (2007), a set that received critical plaudits from all around the world, and It All Starts With One (2011), a substantial hit throughout Scandinavia.

The death of her father in 2016 affected Ane deeply and she felt unable, for quite some time, to use her outlet of songwriting to express her thoughts and emotions.  Inspiration returned during a three-week stay in a cabin in the Norwegian mountains during 2019. The result was a set of enough songs to fill, not only After the Great Storm, but also the forthcoming album How Beauty Holds The Hand Of Sorrow (scheduled for release on 27th November – watch this space…)  Indeed, it was originally Ane’s intention to compile a double album until COVID reared its ugly head.

After The Great Storm and its imminent follow-up were recorded in Stockholm under the direction of a production trio comprising Ane, plus Martin Hederos and Anton Sundell. Alongside Ane, the list of musicians featured on the album include Tonbruket members Johan Lindström and Dan Bergland, bassist Felisia Westberg, drummer Per Eklund and synthesizer wizard Samuel Starck. 

The sound is overwhelmingly electronic which may come as a surprise to those familiar with Ane’s earlier acoustic guitar-backed material. Although the percussive elements of the music sound like they’ve been programmed, they are, we are assured, played on ‘real’ instruments.  And the ace card is, of course, Ane’s voice; crystal clear and vulnerable, yet packed with an inherent strength that takes tight hold of the listener.

The music itself covers an eclectic range, from classic soul, via funk, introspection and near-jazz to something that is almost ambient.  It’s the perfect Sunday morning record; relaxing, spacey, melodic and ultimately, inspiring.  We kick things off with the tight, funky Honey before the title track takes us into more ominous territory; swirling syth and plodding drums provide the backing to a lonely, emotional, vocal that occasionally overflows into a piercing howl.

Don’t Run And Hide is pleasantly reassuring, with beautiful harmonized vocals and a rich, resonant bassline and Crumbs rocks softly over a simple percussive beat and a jangly keyboard line that give a distinctively 1980s feel.  Take Hold Of Me is influenced by Ane’s enduring love of Dance music. Probably the closest thing on the album to ambient, it’s a minimalist exercise in bass-y synth and breathy vocals, whilst Fingerprints takes things in a wholly different direction and is almost a conventional soul ballad.

The penultimate track, The Waiting is rockier, faster and is built around a bubbling synth line reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s On The RunBut for me, it’s closing track We Need A Mother that provides the album with its focal point. It’s a wonderful piece of music with a lyric that calls for unity and which contains killer lines such as “I am offended by the lack of human decency” and “We need a Moses to separate the waters.”  There are hints of a Kate Bush influence right through this album, and they’re felt most strongly on this track, both in the song’s subject matter and in the vocal delivery.

After The Great Storm is an excellent album that can be enjoyed on many levels. It’s music to relax to, to dance along to, but most importantly, it carries some thoughtful, relevant and optimistic lyrical messages – and we all need those things at the moment.

Watch the official video for Feeling Like I Wanna Cry, from the album Here:

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