Ireceive hundreds upon hundreds of CDs, but only once or twice a year does something reach out and grab me by the neck, effectively securing a spot on my year-end list months before I’m even aware of it. Such is the case with Scandinavian singer-songwriter Ane Brun’s sophomore disc A Temporary Dive, the very first album of 2006 to reserve its spot. From the very first note out of Brun’s mouth—no, even before that, from the very first strum of her acoustic guitar on the opening song—I knew I was listening to something special. Brun doesn’t break down any barriers or forge any ground uncharted by the late-‘60s British folk artists whose footprints she so delicately presses her presumably petite feet into, but her songs are refreshing and pure, a throwback to traditional folk while at the same time keeping one foot firmly planted in the no-longer-neo neo-folk movement. Brun evokes Billie Holiday’s sadness and diction on the steel pans-and-glocks title track, and creates a heartbreaking new arrangement of Purcell’s mournful “Laid In Earth” from his 17th century opera Dido and Aeneas. Her finger-picking and ominous, lonely arrangements are reminiscent of Ani DiFranco at her experimental peak, angelic background vocals peeking in and out of the solemn, repeated refrain of “To Let Myself Go,” which Brun describes as “a brief and personal philosophy of life.” The track sets the tone for much of the album, which, despite a less than logical song sequence where the admittedly “sobby, pink” “Song No. 6” is sandwiched between a punch-in-the-gut like “Where Friend Rhymes with End” and “The Fight Song,” which features Ron Sexsmith on vocals, is alternately matter-of-fact and metaphorically elegiac. In the age of iPod, though, it probably doesn’t matter—even broken into parts, Temporary Dive‘s impact is anything but transient.
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