Live At Stockholm Concert Hall
The purpose of Live at Stockholm Concert Hall may be questioned -- Brun's music is too sparse and balanced for her to offer something dramatically different from her regular records during a show (read: no ten-minute jams here), but the live setting also strips away much of the studio polish, making the album not exactly representative of her work. But it's still close, and besides, the release does a good job of showcasing the emotions Brun builds her music on, and if those emotions are rawer here than elsewhere, so much the better. Live at Stockholm Concert Hall is low-key affair centered around Brun's voice, which is an acquired taste: she may seem grating in her angrier moments, but she has a presence and can actually sing sweet melodies when she feels like it. The songs lead off with an acoustic guitar or, in some cases, piano, but violin, accordion, and percussion also make appearances, though they stay firmly in the background; it's possible not to realize that there's something else going on besides Brun's vocals and melodies, and in fact, there are plenty of arrangements to flesh out the music. The tunes themselves are similarly deceptive, being quiet and relaxed on the surface, sometimes folky, sometimes (less frequently) country, but either way packing plenty of tension into them, a trick best illustrated by her cover of Alphaville's "Big in Japan," which is given the same acoustic treatment here and turns into a somber and disquieting ballad. The stripped-down compositions start to blend together after a while, and at over an hour, Live at Stockholm Concert Hall is less impressive as a record than a concert experience, but it can still serve as a decent introduction to Ane Brun's in place of a best-of collection.