CD Review "Crow" Norine Braun Review by: Len This CD is full of surprises. From the packaging to the listening experience. And happily, the surprises are good ones. The imagery brought to my mind by the cover, were far from the experience. Only after listening to â€œCrow", did I get the connection from the interesting cover art to the sultry, and for me, romantic musical experience. I say romantic in the classic sense. The mood is strong and evokes even stronger sensations and visuals. From drifting on the proverbial gentle stream, to steamy evenings in an artsy cafe the mood carries you. Pleasantly, with eclectic companion and intrigue. Jazz influences combined with a willing mix of the esoteric, metaphysical, folk, and I would say soft rock make this CD very difficult to categorize. However, when something is good, I think that in itself is the categorization. "Crow" is in that category. James Bowers accompanies, on all instruments with style, precision, and grace. His abilities are the perfect companion for Braun. Never intrusive, his accompaniment brings rich feelings, interest, and even more depth to the overall experience. A well balanced mix between the two make for the listener a vivid and compelling creation. A true collaboration of talent bring the focus of art to the forefront. I would be amiss for not mentioning overall themes with regard to "Crow". A broad spectrum of the metaphysical is the focus throughout the CD. Not pounded, or pushed, more subtle, and true to the subject. I personally found it more introspective, and maybe that's the point. It is refreshing when music creates thought. "Crow" does just that, it makes you think, feel, visualize. Metaphysical is there in subject, but that does not limit the interpretation and depth. Thirteen tracks strong, this CD leaves you satisfied, and wondering what next? You can find out more about Norine, "Crow" and maybe even what's next at Norine's website.Where you will also find how you can share in this experience with your copy of the CD.
August 08, 2000
Norine Braun's third album, Crow, is an intriguing selection of thirteen songs, most with a metaphysical as well as a romantic bent. The diversity makes it hard to categorize, containing sounds as diverse as alternative rock, folk, blues, synthesizer-based new age and world music with a Mediterranean focus. "Salem" blends new-age synthesizers with rock, exploring romance with a metaphysical perspective: "Two kindred souls that touch through astral planes...." "Slipping Into Violet" continues this theme, but with a quieter sound reminiscent of Greek music. "Mantra" has a light pop sound that accents its peaceful lyrics. The metaphysical is itself a focus of several of the songs. "Animus (Down and In)" has a folk-rock sound with Greek or Middle Eastern influences in the melody and a repeated guitar riff. "Spanish Banks," with a Celtic sound, evokes the beauty and meaning of the location with poetic language. "Crow" has a Middle-Eastern feel, recounting a vision of a mystical Crow and her impact upon the dreamer. There are love songs, of course. "Give Me Love" is a beautiful song with a clean piano accompaniment in which the singer wants to resolve things with her beloved. "Chasing Light" captures the ambivalence of attraction, both the desire and the reluctance. A quiet Spanish guitar alternates with modern spoken word. "Another Man's Fate" remembers an old love: "Why did we pretend/ That our love had no meaning / Our words were only lies / Why Jeanette why." This one has a modern folk singer-songwriter sound to both the music and the guitar. "Who Are You" is an rock anthem, asking "Who are you to judge me ... / we all breathe the same ... / we all need the same / inside." "Dreams" has a singer-songwriter sound as it describes a death in a blizzard, and the promise that they'll meet again in dreams."Wings-Phoenix" has a lively Greek sound and is another anthem of independence. "Hanna to Hollywood" is intensely bluesy, both in sound and in theme. Musician James Bowers supplied all the instrumental accompaniment on this album, and his breadth and skill are impressive. His playing is elegant and non-intrusive, setting the mood and setting off Braun's voice and lyrics effectively, and adding much to the musical interest of "Crow." The package contains some striking photos of crows, in keeping with its title. The liner includes the complete lyrics to the songs. Little else is included besides acknowledgements and credits, and a link to her website, but it's sufficient, and an attractive presentation. Crow is more a collection of individual songs than an album organized as a whole experience. There's seldom a sense of flow from one track to another, although the segues are not jarring either. When the individual songs are as good as these, though, this is a minor complaint. Both the vocals and the instrumentation have a spontaneity that is very pleasing, like the best sort of live performances. Those who like minimal and eclectic music, with a wide range and some metaphysical focus, will enjoy this album very much. [ by Amanda Fisher ]