Album review: "It All Starts With One"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, May 4, 2012
"Do You Remember," the first single off Ane Brun's new album, "It All Starts With One," is a grabber. The collaboration between the Norwegian singer and Swedish duo First Aid Kit is stark but propulsive. The voices are accompanied by only drums, which clatter as Johanna and Klara Soderberg chant and Brun's shivery soprano flutters above.
Most of the album - the eighth from Brun, who is better known in Scandinavia than in the United States - is just stark. The predominant tempo is slow, and the most prominent instruments are piano and strings, although there also are many voices. Brun previously released an album of duets, and she returns to that format for "Worship," an uneventful six-minute dirge with Swedish-Argentinian singer Jose Gonzalez. Other songs feature backing singers or Brun's own vocals, electronically treated.
The latter are prominent on "These Days," another song that shows how spareness can be effective. It also features percussion, although a beat proves to be no guarantee of sparkle. The synth pulse beneath "What's Happening With You and Him" is not enough to rouse the number, an ode to love gone cold that's characteristic - both musically and emotionally - of this wintry album.