“It’s difficult to be happy,” sings Ane Brun on the title track to her latest album, Changing of the Seasons. Her third proper studio release, Seasons is an aptly-titled soundtrack to the shifts and turns in relationships that so often mimic the weather. Through Brun’s lilting voice and folk narrative, love becomes at once a minefield, a star, a “chain of broken hearts.” There’s an irresistable and timeless quality to Brun’s songs; accented mainly by light acoustic guitars and a bit of piano, it is her voice that is meant to stand out most.
From light but lamenting to dark and melancholy, Brun’s works evoke a range of emotions. Even on tracks like opener “The Treehouse Song,” as Brun sings of carefree days, one gets the sense that she’s singing from an autumnal perspective as darker moments lie ahead. On “Lullaby For Grown-Ups”, the safe notion of childhood song is shattered by the cynicism that comes with old age: “When you think of falling skies / remember there are a million ways to die.”
By contrast, the enchanted warbling of “Armour” evokes a Sound Of Music-esque picture in tone; lyrically, the metaphor of a coat of armor falling apart once more signals the idea of endings. Brun’s fascination with these dark undertones is at once a nod to classic singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and to her own Norwegian heritage. “I guess I’m too Scandinavian,” concludes the narrator on “Changing of the Seasons”, acknowledging the contrast that changes in the weather bring: “The relief of spring / intoxication of summer rain / the clearness of fall / how winter makes me reconsider it all.”
Changing Of the Seasons is by no means an uplifting record; at the same time, it offers the kind of comfort that only well-versed singer-songwriters can give. An album full of sad songs to revel in as the days grow shorter and colder, Seasons is Brun’s strongest work yet.