Norine Braun- Evolution of The Blood Star
I love Norine Braun...I would bake her a thousand cakes for but a single 'yeah'.
This CD (Evolution of the Blood Star), was a real surprise. Norine’s voice is low and sexy in the best Dusty Springfiled tradition. This is most interesting and eclectic release I have heard in a long time. It really is fairly schizophrenic like Todd Rundgren and some other artists from the deep, dark past. There’s funky tracks, new wavish ditties, jazzy sweetness, mixed up mashes and things I don’t think there is a name for yet.
Be Brave (Do it Right Blaxcot Remix)
The CD opens up with a sweet down tempo track apparently remixed by Blaxcot. Norine’s voice is haunting and floats over the lazy, funky mix. it almost reminds me of Massive Attack.
Stone and Feather
…and now for something completely different. What a cool song. This song almost reminds me of that new wave band Romeo Void. Norine’s voice sounds like she would kick your ass and then it’s a duet between her sweet girly voice and the bad asswomen. Mighty schizophrenic Norine
Here’s that jazzy Dusty sound I was talking about. Norine really has a stylistic range that is stunning. She croons like K.D. Lang’s lost sister. She has a killer band backiing her up too.
I don’t know what to say about this song. It is just fucking cool. It is in a class all by itself. Sinister synths and evil Norine meets swoopy jazz girl Norine. Trippy as hell. You can never get enough Shaft wah wah guitar for sure.
Rock and a Hard Place
I can really dig this acid jazz, down tempo Sade style track. My dog gives it 9.5 bones for dance-alibity. I was swaying in my chair. This is such a sexy, groovy track. I think this track gets my vote for the best track to license to a film or the next Chanel campaign with Nicole Kidman.Tinkling piano, deep synth bass, stick on the snare jazz drum groove. Perfect.
Q (Evolution of the Blood Star)
Wow. This track seems to sum up Norine’s whole life philosophy. Slapping bass anchors the track which has so many sonic goodies. I will singing the chorus on this in my sleep. Um… what is the Blood Star anyway and can you see it with the naked eye. I think she has been hanging out with Sun Ra’s ghost. Ok, I am going to dance now. By far the coolest track I have heard all week.
Just when I thought I had heard everything this girl can dish out, she comes in with this Etta James channeling piano ballad. The vocals are beautiful, imperfect, heart rending and bring a lump to your throat and tear to your eye.
A stand out track.
Norine is from Canada and she is doing a strange country sounding singing and yodeling ode to her hometown I think. This is a country song made by and for aliens. Strange but cool as hell.
Doesn’t Matter Anyway
Roxy Music meets Annie Lennox or something like that. This is a great track, but not my fav.
A love boat groove ready for vacation complete with wah wah guitar, horns and Barry Manilow piano but wait… here’s a Sergaent Pepper psychadelic tripped out vocal part and then a over the top blues guitar jam and eventually weare back to the love boat. I guess this is what it’s like to be in space if you are Norine Braun. Wonderfully wacky.
Lonesome Side of Truth
Another very strange but engaging song. Norine is taking us on a trip inside her wonderfully twisted and interesting mind. It is so great that record labels don’t control things any more. Norine would have never seen the light of day if that were still true and that would have been sad.
IF I Could Be The One
Norine’s back to being that vulnerable, sweet girl breaking your heart. A wash of synths. oboe and voice fill this song. A simple but powerful track.
Be Brave(dub-triphop remix)
I love this track. The spooky Manchester wash of fender rhodes, swirling voice, deep bass and stone solid grooving drum kit propells this track. My choice for best chill out mix for the month.
I am terribly impressed with what Norine can with voice and with how cool she writes. The production and playing on this CD was killer. I want to hear more and I want to see Norine live. My dog gives it it four paws up.
Norine Braun considers herself a late bloomer, like many writers of our era, time and experience cultivate much of what we have to say, to write, to sing. I simply say the time was right to take the songs written in the bedroom and move to the next phase. There are no rules.
Her amazing catalogue of six studio albums recorded/released over the past few years includes ‘Evolution of the Blood Star,’ ‘Now and Zen,’ ‘Norine Braun and the Mood Swings,’ ‘Crow,’ ‘Miles to Go,’ and ‘Modern Anguish.’ Braun’s style is non definable, her chops range from pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, spoken-word, blues...you get where I am going here. There is no limit to what this lady can do. Her style has great strength, versatility, and allows the listener to be a wide and varied assemblage. She can, with ease, transition from one genre to the next, without any predictability of commonplace.
She is the recipient of awards including the prestigious ‘Female Singer-Songwriter of the Year’ in the Jazz Category at the Independent L.A. Music Awards (2006). Her new compilation is acoustic and stark, showing off her live solo singer-songwriter performances. Her music brings you close like you are meeting a comrade for the first time, her lyrics contemplative and gripping.
The first track, “Be Brave (Do It Right Blaxcot Remix)” has a great groove that is upbeat and intimate all at once. I particularly love the sax in this number, combined with the hushed vocals, all in all a marriage made in heaven. She then shifts to a more rockin number in “Stoned and Feathered”, with the “Stranglers” echoing in my mind throughout. Strong guitar and drums kick this number into gear. This reviewer’s favourite number had to be “In Space”, where I found myself rather entranced.
A tour de force has been born. Viki Ackland - Shebytches.com (2009)
EVOLUTION OF THE BLOODSTAR
Braun and Brains
Whether playing with the Mood Swings or alone, Norine Braun is never dull. Evolution of the Bloodstar is her latest foray into the world of interdisciplinary music. With sensibilities grounded in the slam and performance art genres, some of her songs make it seem that Braun has been waiting for the world to catch up with her sound.
The Vancouver-based artist is both jazz purist--as in the semi-classical pop-inspired, "Skylight"--and an avant-garde neo-slam poet--as evidence on "Brave." Both mixes are great. It's the tunes that sound like funky jazz filtered through early Talking Heads that make Evolution of the Blood Star compelling listening. Ethereal numbers such as the aforementioned "Brave," "In Space" and "Q: Evolution of the Bloodstar," with it's eerie chorus "Papa can you hear me?/ Have I made the grade?" are captivating.
Her efforts in traditional forms, however, are uneven. The song "Alberta" sounds like every other country-folk-rocker who goes indie. Braun's voice may not be strong enough to travel in the circles of jazz mavens like Cassandra Wilson. What Braun has is oodles of wit and cleverness, with an understanding of composition that is most elegant when it ventures furthest from traditional musical forms.
CIndy Filipenko - Herizons Magazine 2009 (Jan 18, 2009)
When I popped this cd in and went to the first track on the list (Norine Braun CRYSTALLIZE) the beginning of the track started out like some sort of fairy tale journey, from the minute Norine began singing I knew I would love this song. I’m reminded of the musical portions of those old 40s musical movies a la Fred Astaire or Judy Garland that I used to love watching as a child. I literally got the urge to break out into song and dance, definitely a voice that could turn around even the worst mood. Very fresh, very pleasant, well done Norine. Sheila Hash - high4records.com
I like the classic style piano. It brings a level of Nora Jones eleagance to the song. And your voice is velvet smooth and cuts thru the air like a knife. I listened to the song the first time and did not pay attention to any of the words. Just the sound alone caried the song. "Under the skylight" very good a love song.With that voice you do not sound like someone who would have a problem getting a date on Saturday night. With that voice you could rule the world. Mark Gruebel
A semi classical pop intro, (at times reminiscent of Chicago's "Color my world) leading into an incredibly exceptional vocalist! Wow! Voice is my bag, and this is an amazing instrument. Depth, style, character, you name it. She knows her instrument and plays with it at will. Fabulous! The song is jazzy and bluesy at the same time, and a very good composition. That's a voice that could turn anything to gold! In this case though, everything was in a different class ... an extremely high one.Louis Gentile Eitorf-Bach Germany, Europe’s Leading Wagnerian Tenor
“An elastic soprano easily accommodating a bass popping funk rock workout or a spacey blues tinged folkrock song.” Tom Heyman listen.com
Her strong, jazz inflected vocal presence. This woman sounds like she could sing Shakespeare. In a smoky nightclub. With a bad case of strep throat...” Annie Lin GoGirlsMusic.com
“Talented Canadian Singer-Songwriter. First rate.”Acoustic Guitar Connections guthriethomasstrings.com
(Aug 26, 2008)
CD REVIEW: Norine Braun - Evolution of the Blood Star
By Alex Jasperse - Muses Muse Genre: Trip-Hop, Pop/Rock, New Wave, Soul
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9.5/10 Songwriting Skills: 9.8/10 Performance Skill: 10/10
What is ‘peaceful’ music? Well, certainly not rainbows and lollipops if you talk to some. ‘Peaceful’ music is generally considered to evoke ease, a feeling of close friendship, safety and security – but why does it tend to border on cliché most of the time? Enter Norine Braun, who shows that peaceful music can be at once powerful and calming, introspective and compelling, rather than being susceptible to any immediate dismissal.
Typically when an artist jumps repeatedly from one genre to another, mixed opinions and harsh criticism are the result. The sense of predictability, constancy and security we associate with that artist is thrown out the window, and we’re left standing there in a dark room of new sounds – sounds we didn’t know we had opened the doors to. But every now and then, someone comes along and welcomes us in, guides us through, and energizes our new musical experience with a sense of peace and security. And that is exactly what makes Norine Braun’s latest, Evolution of the Blood Star, one of the most radiant and emotionally engaging works of the past few years.
Nowhere is the act of falsity; instead it is a reflection of Braun’s ease with her roles as both an artist and a musician. It’s hard not to describe her words as peaceful, reflective and intelligent. There is no weight being placed upon the listener’s shoulders, because she’s transformed the grind of the everyday into poetic statements that encourage a long, deep look at the bigger picture. She has used her voice as her own very human and authentic instrument – unlike others who hide behind a false pretense of honesty. As result, Braun’s comfort with herself as an artist, and her comfort with exploring other genres is what makes Evolution of the Blood Star shine ever so bright.
From the get-go, the sly and lush mystique of “Be Brave (Do It Right Blaxcot Remix)” soothes with mid-tempo groove that’ll no doubt sweep fans of chill-out and downtempo off their feet with its relaxed and graceful intimacy. It’s not only pure bliss to the ears when it’s trading steps between sax lines and soft-spoken harmonies, but the sounds of electronic meets organic instrumentation, combines into a soothing textural soundscape.
But if you thought that was the direction the album would trace, it may come as a surprise that Braun is an artist with a rebellious spirit all her own. Willing to let everyone come along for the ride, things suddenly shift gear and speed up in “Stoned and Feathered.” Rocking out Blondie-style, combined with the indescribable allure of Grace Jones, Braun’s powerful vocals are complemented by growly electric guitars and pounding drum lines. This new wave and post-punk spirit takes a short breather before coming back in “Conformity 451”, which combines the lyrical quirkiness of The Ramones, with upbeat funk guitar lines that dip in and out of classic power trio riffage. If the title of this song seems like an indication of its musical direction – fast, short and a fight against authority – past the midway mark it breaks down into delectable vocal layers of classic ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ that are complemented by a sweet hint of guitar.
What’s so fascinating and enjoyable about Evolution of a Blood Star is how it literally makes the listener forget that the songwriting, structurally, is nothing new. But after the first thirty seconds of deeply introspective tracks like, “Alberta,” it slaps the hands of all possible criticisms that could be made. The sheer attractive force of the energy that is breathing within is simply surreal, spiritual even. Is it a stretch to say that? I’d say no, and I’d even dare you to try and do anything else while Braun is singing. Take “In Space” for example: you’d either forget what you where doing, or drift towards the sounds with a magnetic force that is indescribable. Might not want to get behind the wheel with this one on…
It is apparent that Braun has an understanding of how to keep a listener’s attention in place for over an hour. Slowing the pace down for a few minutes is not only a chance for the listener to take a momentary breather, but it sets the stage for Braun to show off the strength of her vocals with several melancholic pieces. Tracks like “Crystallize” and “If I Could be the One” are infused with descending synths lines, flutes and acoustic guitars that are only there to accent her talent while she croons soft and reflective melodies.
This album is simply a masterpiece: it has detached elements from jazz, pop, trip-hop and soul without ever losing a sense of ‘cool’. Everything is rich and varied, daring but soothing and beautifully poetic. And most importantly, nowhere, simply nowhere, does it feel uneven. If you need something to reinspire your musical palette, or to convince you that it ‘hasn’t all been done before,’ then Evolution of the Blood Star exudes an energy that’s not only peaceful, but is the work of a genius that cannot be understated. There’s pretty much nothing else you could ask for (well, a private concert, perhaps… but that might be a stretch).
[Evolution of the Blood Star]
The Verdict: 9.7/10
Alex Jasperse - Mueses Muse (2007)
This is some really good music! "Be Brave" is a slinky slice of smokyfunkypop. The subdued horns are so sexy! Musically it reminds me of a cross between Sade and Flunk, which are two very good things. A great example of a song that does its own thing, without being contrived to be a hit. Keep it coming.
The Chrome Drug - Music Direct (Jan 14, 2008)
Norine Braun - Be Brave Do It Right
You will think of Sade the moment this track kicks off, but there is so much more to Norine Braun than that. From Vancouver, Canada, this singer-songwriter goes from the jazzy, to the funky and even out to the rocky. But Be Brave Do It Right shows of her soul roots, within the framework of a jazzy ambience that snags the ear from the first note, and holds it until the last has faded. Despite this disparity of styles in one song, it works well for a smooth and creamy result!
Dave Chislett - Matchbox Recordings (Aug 8, 2007)
Love, sex and spirituality
MUSIC / Norine Braun gives her muse a go
Denise Sheppard / Xtra West / Wednesday, July 18, 2007
In a lot of ways, musician Norine Braun is a non-conformist just by virtue of who she is. The East Vancouver-based singer/songwriter is working in an industry that likes its talent young, and prefers musicians who release records that tailor very specifically to one style of music.
Braun — by her own admission — is neither of those things.
"I was a late bloomer," the singer laughs good-naturedly. "I always wrote songs, but it was in my bedroom with my tape recorder, for myself. In terms of my going into a studio, putting money behind it and trying to grow, that wasn't until my early '30s.
"I had a lot of people saying to me 'Are you kidding? It's too late! Most people your age are hanging up your instrument.' I didn't listen. I have to do what I have to do."
Now — at the age of 45 — Braun has learned to be a music industry DIY-er, doing everything from making her website to independently releasing six of her own CDs and booking her own live shows.
Testament to her determination, she has just left a career of 17 years working in the field of mental health and addiction in order to concentrate even more on her career.
"It has been hard to focus on a job full-time and the music full-time," the singer admits. "It just feels right; this is the time to just go for it. I don't know if it is going to be viable, but I want to focus on my own muse 100 percent."
Throughout the years, Braun's music has varied stylistically about as much as one person can. Even on her new CD, Evolution of the Blood Star, the songs veer from bossa nova to trip-hop to straight ahead rock 'n' roll.
"I'm a songwriter first and I write what I'm feeling, rather than write a specific sound. I think people are sophisticated enough that they can listen to a whole bunch of different things," she says.
Braun's song topics have run the gamut of many different themes, inspired by everything from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 novel ("Conformity 451") to watching a friend transition ("Rock and a Hard Place") to sadomasochism ("Jenny"). She says the songwriting process helps her to work through different ideas.
"When I was writing 'Jenny' and coming up with lyrics like 'I like Jenny when she's down on all fours/But does Jenny like Jenny when she's down on the floor' I was thinking out loud about what is pornography, what is erotica, what is sadomasochism? Is it a true expression or a popular one, is our body sacred, is it profane? It was more an expression of my uncertainty of this and of where it comes from."
As with most songwriters, the subject of love factors regularly in her music and, if her connection to her partner is any indication, she knows of which she sings. "Alice and I met 20 years ago; I was 25 and she was 28. We met through the classifieds; I never answered one and she had done it only once before. We've been living together 19 years. We're soul mates, best friends and all that. I couldn't imagine my life without her."
Another topic that regularly surfaces in her music is spirituality, most notably in both the latest CD's art and title song, Q (evolution of the blood star). Within the disc's graphics, there is a painting on one panel featuring a crucified hand reaching up to a second hand coming down from the heavens.
"The song is about my own evolution and that picture to me is my — and humanity's — reaching out for something greater than myself," she explains. "There is certainly a Christian undertone to it; reaching to the Creator, to the Higher Power, being connected so that through my suffering, there is redemption."
She admits that taking on such spiritual topics both in her music and her disc's artwork is a bit of a dividing line for some of her potential fan base. "In terms of the lesbian community, Christianity is not a real big draw," she half-laughs.
"As a whole, mainstream society is afraid to talk about spirituality," she continues. "It is almost a dangerous thing to do, because people have strong feelings about it, and when you say you are 'of' something, people have presuppositions that [they] put on you."
Still, she says she feels deeply embraced and supported by much of Vancouver's queer community.
"I've been really supported by Vancouver Pride. This will be the third Pride that I've played," she notes. "I'm playing East Side Pride, Picnic in the Park and Gay Day at Playland."
She is also very much looking forward to the second annual Vancouver two-spirit gathering Embracing our Spirits, Jul 27-29, and speaks with great joy and respect of the two-spirited side of her life.
"There is a certain acceptance in the aboriginal community to be who you are, more so than most other communities," she says. Her connection to her aboriginal roots has been a source of strength and support in exploring both her queer identity and her spirituality, she notes.
"Two-spirit to me is more of a spiritual path which encompasses sexuality, gender identity and roles. Certainly in the literature I've read, when a person became aware of that part of themselves, they were sent to the two-spirits in the community who would teach them and it was a celebrated and very sacred, powerful thing.
"It would be so nice if that was all so accepted," she says wistfully, "to be what and how you are."
Denise Sheppard -Xtra West Magazine
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Vancouver, BC Canada) The mere listen to Norine Braun’s “Evolution of the Blood Star” one will begin the expedition to self discovery, and as each song filters into the soul, your own fate is realized. Braun’s music and lyrics are uplifting, kind and soft-spoken, as if an authentic conversation between two people.
Experience fully Norine Braun’s latest CD, ‘Evolution of the Blood Star’, a reflection of her own very personal progression; what began as the natural walk towards achievement, the next step, it became something more. Braun too was transformed, a psychic inheritance so to speak. Each thoughtful stride and enriched moment is instilled into each note. And as you listen, you become part of the music.
The title track, ‘Evolution of the Blood Star’, whispers of childhood memories, and a healing that takes place when one discovers an inner strength to overcome. There is a sense that a life is nothing without the awakening, that precious moment, and copious moments joined collectively when one realizes what truth is. Forgiveness. And of the letting go.
Braun was having fun with this one, and that is mirrored in the bounce of ‘Conformity 451’. Her throaty voice is heightened, tantalizing, and one can’t help but succumb to the beat and begin chanting along! Winner in the Artists for Literacy International Songwriting Competition, this timely song was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’.
This multi-genre album is already receiving high praise; Braun was chosen from a sea of artists to win the esteemed award Female Singer-Songwriter of The Year in the Jazz category at the LA Music Awards in November 2006. Her song ‘Crystallize’ boasted the honors; it is optimistic and heartfelt; you will be swept up in the dreamlike nature of Braun’s voice, pure to the ear. Sheila Hash, of High Four Records, reacts to the song and says, “From the minute Norine began singing I knew I would love this song. I literally got the urge to break out into song and dance, definitely a voice that could turn around even the worst mood.”
Braun is a sweet honest woman, a rarity in this world. Her empathy for humanity is felt in each composition, a joyful amalgamation of downtempo, jazz, pop and rock. Pop, as a genre, and music altogether would be incomplete without the magical artistry of this distinct singer songwriter. And for those who have never given this particular variety of music a chance, “Evolution of the Blood Star” is the perfect gateway!
Leanne Campbell Imagine Write