These days I just walk with you

Ane Brun’s new album “It All Starts With One” shows the singer-songwriter’s darker side. Accompanied by accentuated drumming and minimalist arrangements, her fragile voice carries you through the melancholic songs with lightness and grace.

Ane Brun was once called another suicidal Scandinavian singer. She made fun of it in a Berlin concert a couple of years ago. Her new album “It All Starts With One” will probably provoke more comments like that.

Dark Album Artwork

The deluxe version of her new album “It all starts with one” features 18 songs on two CDs. The cover design is held in black and brown and matches the darkness and melancholy of the songs. The singer looks like an art product rather than the warm-hearted, angel-like singer with curly blond hair I know from her previous shows. She is wearing white make-up and a brown velvet dress which makes her look rather minimalist, nearly artificial, and maybe a bit Gothic.

Her Finest Record Yet

The pictures match the atmosphere of the first disk of the deluxe version of her album. Her voice sounds lovely and clear as always, but also lonely and distant, maybe because of an echo effect in most songs. Disk One is a carefully put together, tight and matching series of songs, while Disk Two is more of a varied mix of styles. While it took me some time to connect to some of the songs, I still agree with the BBC that Ane Brun “has managed to create her finest record yet”.

Disk One: Melancholic and Distant

The first ten songs are not easily accessible, and surely nothing you’d like to put on as background music. I had to sit down and listen to them carefully to appreciate them.

The first song, These Days, is about acceptance of something you know is not good for you at all: “These days, I let you stay”. It could be a song about depression creeping into “my bones, my joints, into my veins. Like an animal you coiled your darkness around me.” Accepting it is not defeat, but almost a decision of being gentle with yourself. “These days I just walk with you. These days, I let you stay. A little further away but I walk with you.” The lyrics are accompanied very little instruments, one is a keyboard that sounds like a church organ, the other is percussions. (Listen to the song on youtube)

Do You Remember is an interesting song because its upbeat rhythm is contrasted with melancholic lyrics. “Do you remember that I already knew it was the last time… you being mine. … Do you remember when we forgot how to smile at each other.” Because of those lyrics, Ane Brun’s voice sounds “falsely” light (she is supported by backing vocals of the duo First Aid Kit). (Youtube video)

My favorite song on disk one is Undertow. In the beginning you only hear a distant piano and Ane Brun’s wonderful voice. “I must follow these movements where ever they they go. I’m caught in your undertow.” There is beauty in this compact, focused start of the song that touches me. Later she is joined by a choir and drums that mimic a thunderstorm. “Take me out to sea. Away from you and me. Let me float. Lead me out to sea. Let me go.” When the song becomes quiet again towards the end you immediately want to hear it again. (Listen on youtube)

Disk Two: The Relief

The second disk in the deluxe version of “It all starts with one” comes almost as a relief after the melancholic journey of the first one. It is less intense and more playful, and therefore more accessible.

Take it Slow and Queen and King are more uplifting songs. Take it Slow makes fun of how people always say you should take it slow – because it’s simply not always possible: “Take it slow. Take it slow. You and me. Let’s take it slow.” After a short pause, Ane sings, “What does it mean. To take it slow. It all seems so mean when you take it slow.” Queen and King is a live version that sounds like it was recorded in a pub after a long day, with Ane Brun taking of her shoes, sitting down and starting to play (this is just my imagination). While I can’t quite follow the meaning of the lyrics, I love the cheerfulness (clapping hands, choir joins Ane to finish the song).

Touching from the first second (as I know Ane Brun) is Du Gråter Så Store Tåra (English version). I love the guitar and how Ane’s voice comes into the song. The song is sad but calming and comforting: “Your tears are much heavier these days. … We will make it. A little further. Don’t you worry. We’re almost there. You and me. I will be here.” It’s a very simple song, which makes it my favorite on the second disk. (Listen on youtube)

Another World
is unbearably sad, and beautiful at the same time. It is pure Sehnsucht. Written by Anthony P Hegarty, the lyrics tell the story of longing for “another place” so intensely that you can nearly see yourself missing this world already (“I’m gonna miss the trees. I’m gonna miss you all.”). I cannot listen to this song more than once per day, although it really draws you in with it’s melancholic beauty and simplicity. In an interview Ane Brun was asked about the meaning of the song (written by Anthony Hegarty). She answered that it’s about “the world we have and what we’re about to lose if we don’t do something major soon.”

Old and New Ane Brun

It is probably clear by now that I would recommend to buy the deluxe version to have that balance of new and old Ane Brun. She has developed as an artist, and still stays the same. I’m looking forward to the London concert in April 2012.

Songlist of Deluxe Version

Other Reviews of this Album

  • A shortened review of this blog entry at the Guardian.
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    4 thoughts on “These days I just walk with you

    1. Pingback: Ane Brun: Songwriting is “magical” « notnicolajames

    2. Pingback: Ane Brun, go get them! « notnicolajames

    3. Pingback: Review: “The Lion’s Roar” by First Aid Kit could be louder « notnicolajames

    4. Chantal on said:

      Her voice is magical. I love the way you can listen to this music without paying attention to the lyrics and it just seems like a light happy song but when you hear the lyrics it has a whole new meaning.

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