WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 – Ane Brun’s recent show at Jammin’ Java as well as the tour it’s a part of is a departure from what she is normally used to doing. On the other hand, it’s nothing that’s entirely foreign to her, either.
The Norwegian born singer/songwriter has been performing for a long time now and has evolved greatly since her early days into a considerably more diverse artist. This recent tour is likely to seem at least to some of her devotees to be a return to her roots. The only problem with that line of thinking is that upon reflection, its not exactly clear what she might be returning to.
The premise behind her most recent tour in the States revolves around the release and support of her 2013 album “Rarities.” But it’s also tightly connected to her compilation album, “Songs 2003-2013.” Both albums in their own way are a retrospective on the last ten very productive years of Ane Brun’s career, though, so it’s fair to say that’s what this tour actually boils down to.
The current road show is something of a celebration of Ane Brun, though in her unmistakably shy and humble way, she’d probably disagree. But the tour is not necessarily a celebration of her music so much as it’s meant to highlight this artist her in her role as a singer/songwriter. This may seem a bit like splitting hairs. But over the years, many seem to have lost sight of Ane Brun as an individual artist, and her current appearances seem designed to rectify this situation in a way.
When she’s on stage, Ane Brun is shy and relatively unassuming, not just in the way she performs but in the way she interacts with the audience. It’s not really self-deprecation, because she doesn’t put herself down. But it’s definitely a genuine humility radiating from a desire on her part not to overemphasize her relative importance.
This makes her quite different from the average solo artist who might share such qualities on the surface but still go out of their way to indulge in self-promotion anyway. Brun doesn’t entirely shy away from self-promotion. But it seems more the unintended byproduct of her chosen method of performing than anything else. It’s tough for any entertaining to get away from this entirely. Yet somehow, Brun instinctively minimizes it.
That said, her performance at Jammin’ Java—characteristic of her tour—is a departure from what she’s been used to performing in public over the last several years as she’s become accustomed to playing with rather large back up bands added to her arrangements and compositions. But with that kind of production value backing her up, this kind of show makes it more about the music, the sound, and the stagecraft, drawing attention away from the singer-songwriter herself. This tour, however, makes a focus on the personal unavoidable.
Brun pointed this not long after she opened her show here, discussing her early music and live performance practices and stating that this was the way she would be performing once again during the live sets on this tour. In other words, no big commercial show this time around. Just her and a few instruments, most importantly, her own acoustic guitar.
The result was a set infused with refreshing vibe throughout, as she performed her music in a somewhat different context than we’ve become accustomed to. In the process, both she and we ended up rediscovering aspects of her songs and stylings that might have been pushed aside in previous years.
To many of her fans, this tour has been something of a relief. While Ane Brun isn’t really attempting to develop a personality cult here, she is trying to get back to what started everything to begin with. This time, as it was at the outset, it’s just her and the audience, playing on a stripped down set, conjuring up all the artist-audience intimacy that phrase implies.
The spotlight was on her for the entire night, though less obviously so than in recent years. Yet at no point does she feel less at home. These are still her songs. It’s still her artistry. No matter what context she performs them in, the emotion and sincerity Ane Brun projects during her performance can’t be ignored. But it’s particularly effective when she’s able to connect personally with her audience, which she certainly is doing on this tour.