Continuing a tradition of expansive Scandinavian pop, Ane Brun is 14 years into a prolific career, and on ‘When I’m Free’, we find her at her most settled. This record floats seamlessly with an almost impatient willingness to throw countless ideas, harnessed by one of the vocal performances of the year.
In 2012, Ane toured and wrote to the extent that exhaustion set in. During a tour with Peter Gabriel (with whom Ane has collaborated), health issues took their toll. From that frenzied life comes a beautifully produced record, co-produced by Tobias Fröberg, which is meticulously paced and spacious: ‘All We Want is Love’ uses luscious string arrangements and softly strummed guitar to propel Ane’s achingly beautiful voice, while the busier ‘Directions’ still boasts the same patience; drum kicks and timpani are balanced out by twinkling piano triplets, which act as comparative light rainfall against a low hum of thunder. Lyrically, there’s a lot to enjoy here: ‘You Lit My Fire’ is a tribute to the powerful women who’ve inspired the Molde-based songwriter: “spray my body in gold / ingrate myself with their names” is a couplet in a song dripping with liberation rhetoric, refrains of “I will never ever forget” and “freedom”. ‘Still Waters’ harks to that period of ill health and exhaustion: “I feel the wind slowing down around me,” Ane croons, on top of reverberated snares and eerie chord progressions, something like Massive Attack-lite in its textures. ‘When I’m Free’ finds Ane in a powerful mood. It’s packed with compositions which match a sense of control that echoes her life. This album is one of empowerment and regained vitality. – EUAN L DAVIDSON, http://diymag.com/