Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

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Album Review: Ane Brun – When I’m Free

2 min read

I first fell in love with Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun back in 2008 when she released her single The Treehouse Song, from her album Changing Of The Seasons. Entirely won over by the beauty and honesty of her music which distilled deep emotions into the simplest terms. That song utterly captured a feeling for me, I still listen to it today. Now on her sixth studio album, Ane Brun has only climbed higher. Her new release When I’m Free marks a new perspective for Ane Brun as well as the latest wonderful evolution of her writing.

Ane Brun - When I'm Free

After battling health issues for many years (Brun suffers from autoimmune disorder Lupus), in the dark of the night Brun experienced an epiphany. When I’m Free both narrates and celebrates the release of her fear of her illness; letting go of her anxiety about something she could not control, and ultimately helping to heal herself through doing so.

Running with that new found courage and carelessness, there is a sense of bravery that pervades the album, musically and lyrically. And a latent strength and weight that feels new in her work. Returning to her youth, Brun looked to her own early influences for inspiration – DJ Shadow, Lamb, Lauryn Hill. In When I’m Free she wanted to achieve the same intimacy of sound through such sparse elements, and experiment with new forms of instrumentation, moving away from her acoustic foundations. Working with producer Tobias Fröberg, and stepping into the studio with only those references, Brun knew only that she wanted more beats, more bass and “more colours in the music”.

And that is exactly what she has achieved. Her bell-toned vocals move perfectly to a jazzier backdrop, finding their place easily over programmed beats and deep melodies. Holding new strengths in the anthemic You Lit My Fire and the industrial feel Shape Of A Heart. A particularly evocative moment is Directions, with its lyrical confidence and freeform simplicity overlaying afro-beat percussion. Recorded with the same musicians who accompanied Brun on her international tour, the record achieves a real warmth. There is a sense of complicity in the performance, born of sharing stages and those live experiences.

Ane Brun has in no way severed all ties with previous incarnations, despite the richness of this new influence. Miss You More resonates with the simplicity of emotion that she captures so perfectly in previous records, and All We Want Is Love harkens back to her acoustic roots and beautiful optimism.

When I’m Free is possibly one of the most successful attempts to capture the essence of something without simply regurgitating it. And illuminated by a fresh outlook, the album shines a light on previously unseen elements within Ane Brun. If you listen to just one song from When I’m Free, let it be Still Waters. Raising itself to an almost religious aspect, it encapsulates the kind of feeling that perfectly describes this latest release from Ane Brun.