DECEMBER FALLS REVIEWS
"Is that actually Christmas around the corner?!? With new COVID restrictions every week making the holiday season less and less conducive to gatherings, it's hard to imagine what the day will look like this year. But the Christmas spirit is indomitable. In one way or another, with stacks of deliveries and zoom call gatherings, we will celebrate like we always have. Christmas is this amazing yardstick of how life has changed and yet our little idiosyncratic traditions remain. Music has and will always be at the core of that.
Vancouver-based blues-rock singer Norine Braun has cooked up a Christmas album during her time in quarantine that offers up several swingin' new holiday-tinged tracks and peppers in her rowdy take on some old chestnuts. The veteran songstress' new tracks frame the season in a new way, shirking the traditional style much in the way rock n roll originally came in and rebranded the idea of Christmas by the likes of Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley. December Falls encapsulates the whole period of transition that comes with the new year, not just the day itself. God knows we're all ready for a transition!
The first track out of the gate 'Solstice (The Day the Sun Stands Still)' waxes about frosting landscapes and cozy rituals over jazz fusion chord changes. Smooth saxophone and a fluttering flute texturize Braun's ode to the shortest day of the year. Braun's Metis ancestry brings a holistic theme to the track appreciating nature's cycles and rejoicing in the coldest season of the year. Like stepping into a warm lodge and downing a couple of rum toddies, the album quickly takes on a tropical feel with Braun's Caribbean take on 'I Saw Three Ships'. Steel drums and half time drums put everyone at ease, ready for a sunny and loose Christmas party.
A whirling organ and trembling guitar score 'Mistletoe Blues'. Snappy slap guitar shoots back and forth with a snarling harmonica. Braun kneads and bends notes putting some funk and feel into the season. 'The Winter After Elvis Died' uses the King's death as a touchstone to echo back to the weird, wild circumstances of Braun's youth when she fell terribly ill. The lyrics are expertly woven with rhymes snaking around and whipping back again. A Clarence Clemons-style sax solo full of bravado and big soul carries out this Broadway-ready tune to the end. Roadhouse blues-rock tells the tale of the notorious 'Poinsettia Pearl', a barroom swinger.
Braun performs classics like 'Blue Christmas', 'O Christmas Tree/Oh Tannenbaum', Silent Night, and newer classic Wham's 'Last Christmas' with her same saucy flare. The title track opens with her a Capella singing to a windy gust, sinking smoothly into a textural, moody rock number with Johnny Marr guitars. Wistful without being too dour. 'Put a Wreath on it Blues' puts that Chicago swing on classic Christmas tropes. Braun's voice verges on a grind to match the railway harmonica.
Braun admirably performs enough Christmas standards to qualify it as a full-fledged Christmas album but the high points of the album are her original tracks. The new takes on the season not only give us new material for the holiday but reinvigorates the genre like songs like 'Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin' or 'Christmas All Over Again' do. This is an irregular Christmas, infuse it with some ballsy, bluesy rock n roll." 4 Stars Jon C. Ireson Music-News
There’s such a lovely retro feel to this gorgeous, wintery Christmas album from Canadian artist Norine Braun. I reviewed her album “Through Train Windows” last year, which I loved. She has a beautiful, sultry, soulful voice - bluesy, hopeful and warm. So whatever she sings sounds wonderful, if I’m honest.
This is a brilliant collection of songs, Christmas classics, carols and plenty of really excellent originals too. In fact, my favorite Christmas song is even here, the much forgotten “I Saw Three Ships.” It reminds me so much of Christmas as a kid in England. "Silent Night" as well, all done in Norine’s own inimitable style - soulful, gentle, authentic. Nothing spangly or fake, over done or commercial. Just a great collection of music that would work in any setting…party, dinner, quiet evening with the family, Christmas morning as we tear open the presents!
Norine has a real KD Lang quality to her voice, with a little bit of Tracy Thorn from Everything But The Girl. There’s a distinct 80s vibe to this collections, it’s the song choice and also the gorgeous open production, the saxophone, the percussion, the unabashed joy and excellent musicians. Honestly, this is such a great album! I absolutely love it!!! And any time you can listen to “Last Christmas” is a very good day if you ask me and Norine's arrangement is sublime!! Favorite song…”Solstice,” but I also love “I Saw Three Ships” of course! Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros North Hollywood Arts District
Hailing from Vancouver BC Canada, Norine Braun is a longtime artist who has won multiple awards, played in numerous festivals, and performed across various theaters, venues, and even at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. For this upcoming holiday season, Braun is bringing back the old spirit of Christmas with her record December Falls. Featuring original and traditional songs, it’s an album that brings back the celebratory spirit of the holidays letting us savor the old norm in a year filled with chaos
“Winter is upon us now” declares Braun in the opener “Solstice.” It’s a broodily uplifting song that radiates the comforting hope of wrapping up another year while spending the long dark hours of the night reflecting. Braun takes a more upbeat approach in covering the British classic Xmas song “I Saw Three Ships.” In “Mistletoe Blues,” Braun’s croons bloom over the laidback melody that stretches with seasonal melancholia. The following piece, “The Winter After Elvis Died,” is an original hymn co-written by Braun that brings back 70s pop infused with jazzy elements where the sax evokes the spirit of Clarence Clemons.
“Pointsettia Pearl” is a bluesy rock song with stomping riffs as she waltzes around the decorative origins of the Poinsettia during the holiday season. It’s chic and edgy at the same time. Braun brings back the King again with her cover of 1964 song “Blue Christmas,” where her vocals soar over the country soundscape. The title track of the record “December Falls” is a blend of rock and pop filled with an undeniable sense of longing. The following ballad “Put A Wreath On It” is another original and has the raw, edgy tints of Americana on it where the harmonica interludes add a Spaghetti West vibe to it.
Braun kicks off “O Christmas Tree” with shimmering jingles and electric guitars, yielding a foot-stomping melody that feels perfect for a holiday march anthem. She gives us a bluesier version of the classic “Last Christmas,” where her silvery vocals flourish over the playful chords. “Christmas Bells” is a jazzy carol where the saxophone interludes give an eccentric twist to the son to be classic hit. The final piece “Silent Night” is not what you’ll expect – instead of taking a serene approach, Braun brings an upbeat flair to it with glistening guitar chords that add an unexpected zestful oomph. December Falls is an unconventional holiday album that brings a fresh take on the classic while also giving us new ballads to add to our Christmas playlist.December Falls will be out on December 4 - Aupium Reviews
December Falls has some of Vancouver’s finest musicians on board including: Adam Popowitz returning as producer and playing bass and lead guitar on the album. Elliot Polsky is on percussion and drums, Alice Fraser is on keys and harmony vocals. Huggybear Leonard on blues harp and penny whistle, Toby Peter spoken word, Brent Mah features on tenor sax and Norine plays rhythm guitar and vocals. Mixed and mastered at Rear Window Song and Sound. Thanks to a songwriting #showcasebc grant from CreativeBC that Norine received in response to the COVID pandemic, Norine authored 4 of her 7 original songs that appear in this new album written while in provincial lock down. Thanks for supporting independent artist!
Original Music Inspired By The Natural and Supernatural World
PRESS FOR THROUGH TRAIN WINDOWS
"Inspired by her 2018 cross-Canada trip as artist-on-board the Riding the Rails tour with partner Alice Fraser, longtime singer/songwriter Braun offers up a set of literate and atmospheric folk songs. Sleeping Buffalo opens the set, probably inspired by looking at Sleeping Buffalo Mountain from her studio window, and it sets a solemn melodic mood to open what quickly becomes a rocking few tracks. The driving boogie of Jerkwater Town snarls while Climbing Table Mountain just pulses with a jazzy undertone. Braun has really great phrasing, smoothly rolling over her varied material. A real highlight is the ska-like Rue St. Jean with its infectious electric guitar hook. Stuart Derdeyn - The Vancouver Sun
"Funky jazz with a poetic theme, and presentations of a bluesy rock prevalence, Norine Braun is a queen of modern day blues/jazz royalty." Sherryl Craig. Nashville Music Guide
"Braun is nonetheless thoroughly reverent through her work, a hallmark of Canadian artistry if there ever was one" Jake Tully Moxipop
Norine Braun – Through Train Windows Out Now There is something for everyone on Norine Braun’s latest album Through Train Windows. Inspired by a cross Canada train journey, it is a diverse collection of musical vignettes that showcase the Vancouver artist’s vocal range and storytelling abilities.
The album is as varied as the Canadian landscape. The opening track “Sleeping Buffalo” could be a lullaby sung while creeping around the foothills of the massive Rocky mountains, while the second track “I’m Going Home” suggests a triumphant return to the cosiness of a small town; perhaps nestled on the rugged shores of either coast or nestled in a little nook in the wild expanse of Manitoba.
There are obvious jazz influences throughout the thirteen track collection, although Braun is clearly troubadour at heart. At its’ core, Through Train Windows is guided by a nomadic spirit with a strong emotional connection to place. No song conveys this sentiment better than “Heading up North”, with its simple arrangement and no-frills production.
Braun’s voice is intriguing. It is beautifully suited to the vintage jazzy vibe that weaves its way around saxophone wails and some of the well-choreographed guitar solos. Its tone is rich and fluid and in the lower registers it finds a little bit of magic, especially with “Sleeping Buffalo,” the album opener and “Crosses and Sweetgrass”. The latter is a song that struggles with remorse and one wonders where on the journey this song found it’s way into a collection that is otherwise optimistically nostalgic.
For those who have made the trek across the Great White North, this album will conjure up memories, and it will likely inspire those who haven’t to do it in some form or other. In a nutshell, Through Train Windows is a distinctly Canadian musical mosaic that will send the listener on a journey they will want to take again and again. Mariko Margetson folkradio.co.uk and Vandela Magazine
Order Download via Bandcamp: https://norinebraun.bandcamp.com/album/through-train-windows
Whether by pavement or on rails, long has the road song been celebrated in folk and Americana. Inspired by Norine Braun’s actual ‘Riding the Rails’ tour as a designated ‘Artist on Board’ alongside partner Alice Frasier, Through Train Windows has plenty of them. Having journeyed over 6,000 kilometers from Vancouver to Ottawa, Montreal, and beyond, the Canadian singer-songwriter clearly had plenty picturesque to take in when getting down to crafting this homage to her adventures on-board. Reflective of the Rocky Mountains, chilly forests, vast prairies, and endless seas of Braun’s travels, the artist’s newest offering is as textured, varied, and vibrant as the melange of landscapes from whence it came.
More-so than milquetoast, strummy folk, Braun’s Through Train Windows is an exercise in layered Americana, taking the best of what makes folk tick beside the blues to craft a convincing roots rock experience. Such ebullience is easy to ascertain from the opening moments of ‘Sleeping Buffalo’, Braun’s hearty vocals offering a forward soul to the song as it continues to unfurl a rich production. Truly indicative of the aforementioned prairies as well as the train on which she rode, Braun navigates the multifarious sounds swirling about her and communicates them in a way which conveys this atmosphere to her listeners. It’s not at all difficult to begin grasping the meticulous, heartfelt nature with which Braun approached developing this special release.
The album’s remaining twelve songs are a continued showcase of each positive mentioned above. Case-in-point, Braun is just as masterful a songwriter as she is an artist. Able to relate the stories of her travels and the thoughts and actions they brought about, Through Train Windows injects a breezy, bluesy cool into the realm of folk narration. The end result is an album most certainly worth giving an ear to not just for its truly unique beginnings, but for the lushness through which every bit of its composition is relayed. Jonathan Frahm ForFolkssake.com
Canadian singer-songwriter Norine Braun will drop her latest album December 7. Entitled Through Train Windows, the album was inspired by Braun’s cross Canada Riding the Rails tour as Artist On Board last year. From Vancouver to Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Montreal, and Halifax, the tour covered more than 6,000 kilometers.
When the tour ended, Braun composed the songs while serving as Musician in Residence at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. With a sound blending blues, folk, soul, and roots rock, Through Train Windows features the talents of Braun (vocals, guitar), Adam Popowitz (lead guitar, bass), Elliot Polsky (drums, percussion), Huggybear Leonard (blues harp), Alice Fraser (keys, harmonies), and Steve Hilliam (tenor sax).
Encompassing 13-tracks, the highlights on the album include “Sleeping Buffalo,” a delicious alt-rock number with bluesy country hues. Braun’s voice dazzles with its smooth, pristine textures. The harmonic scope and depth of this tune is remarkably resonant, and the wail of the harmonica is delectable. “Exhale” merges pop, rock, and blues into a radiant tune with a prog-rock-like feel. The rounded, topping tones of the bass line infuse the music with plumpness, as the compact snap of the snare accompanies a shushing high-hat. Layered sonic textures shimmer with nuanced colors, as Braun’s rich voice soars overhead.
“Heading Up North” rides a steady acoustic guitar while an electric guitar echoes in the background. Braun’s delightfully velvety tones hold the song together, preventing it from becoming a trippy psychedelic song. “Rock The Rolling” features a fusion jazz-flavored tune, with almost hip-hop-like spoken word lyrics mixed with melodic vocals.
“Crosses & Sweetgrass” might be my favorite song on the album because of the gorgeous resonance of the piano and Braun’s passionate, evocative tones. It’s a distinctive, marvelous voice, with graceful inflection and magnetic charm. Through Train Windows is an excellent album, well-worth your attention and time. As will become evident as you listen to the album, the captivation of the softer, creamier songs is more beguiling, subjectively, than the more potent rockers. Randall Radic Tattoo.com
Vancouver singer-songwriter Norine Braun is back with a new album Through Train Windows, a follow up to 2017’s wonderful Kind of Blues. Aptly titled, Through Train Windows was inspired by a recent tour in which Braun traveled across Canada via railway, and there’s a deeply personal identity to the majority of the songs as the artist soaked in the towns, landscapes, and people she encountered on her travels. Braun’s lyrical style is fantastically poetic, calling to mind the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, but stylistically she never shies away of exhibiting a harder blues rock edge when necessary.
Braun excels, unsurprisingly, at the pastoral, and songs rich in descriptions in nature like “Heading Up North” and “Climbing Table Mountain” are obvious highlights on the record. But she describes metropolitan environments as well, and the disco-tinged “Rue St. Jean” is a clear contender for the most fun song here. The album leans toward the edgier and more electric, but there are plenty of tender, acoustic moments like the expressive opener “Sleeping Buffalo.” The tour must have been an amazing experience for Braun, because Through Train Windows is one of her purest and most concise statements as an artist yet. Cody Conard bigtakeover.com
"With a soft acoustic, gentle harmonica and Braun’s powerful voice, every track on Through Train Windows has the uncanny ability to make you nostalgic for places you’ve never been. It also immediately makes you yearn for home, even if you’re physically already there." Slone Fox Rektchords Magazine
"Although Through Train Windows ends with a rollicking upbeat title track for me, the plodding “Heaven Only Knows,” works better. Unlike anything else of these 13, with a descending chorus line, Polsky hitting laconically, and droplet bass notes and slide from Adam Popowitz, I love how at times things seem to be breaking down into a discordant mess, then right themselves again. This is a weird, wonderful, great tune on an incredible album." Ralph Greco - shortandsweetnyc reviews
This is a musician with a lot to say and a gorgeous, warm and epically harmonic voice with which to do it. Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros - Nohoartsdistrict
Emotional, heartfelt and eclectic: Norine Braun in 3 words.
“Her voice has the viscosity of a jazz crooner, the elegance of a gospel singer, and the heart of a blues artist.” Bryan Rogers
“Straight out of Vancouver comes Norine Braun, a bluesy artist with a siren’s voice. To say I could listen to Braun sing all day would be an understatement. There’s a kind of raw power to her soulful voice. She even nails melodic bits throughout the album that recall artists like KD Lang and Stevie Nicks, perhaps with a strong dash of Melissa Etheridge. I really took to this album straight away. Great stuff. “ – Robert Ottone JustPressPlay Review
Best listened to as loud as your neighbours will tolerate, Conventus is an incredibly strong offering from front to back. Strong and passionate, you are able to feel the artists soul, and that of the musicians playing with her. It’s like Norine is able channel both KD Lang and Joni Mitchell concurrently, which in itself should say something. The power and soulfulness she offers up just has to be experienced." Scott Alexander ABORT MAGAZINE
“Conventus the Eye of the Heart” fuses elements of jazz, funk, pop, rock and reggae into a bewitching blues album. Norine Braun’s vocal styling combines those of artists like Bonnie Raitt, Ani DiFranco and Koko Taylor into one remarkable voice." Laurie Fanelli VeggieFans
Her music sounds like the union of Nick Cave with Patti Smith & City and Colour deep in the Canadian forests." - Joshua Smotherman MTM
An imaginative display of fine musicianship, potent vocals and heartfelt lyrics, talent like hers doesn't exactly come around too often." - Kevin Sellers Music Emission
On this well-recorded album she’s got variety, solid tunes and a band that’s so good they breathe together. Why are you still reading this? Go download Conventus The Eye of the Heart." - Jamie Anderson Indie-Music.com
Norine Braun - Kind of Blues
“a bluesy artist with a siren’s voice. To say I could listen to Braun sing all day would be an understatement. There’s a kind of raw power to her soulful voice.” - Robert Ottone JustPressPlay Review
“Kind of Blues” is a collection of blues influenced scintillating songs from her previous recordings. Braun is a Vancouver singer-songwriter renowned for writing wide ranging compositions in various genres from blues, roots, ambience, rock to jazz music in her impressive catalogue of 10 albums.
Cover artwork by Dylan Moore
Kind of Jazz
New Digital Release!
“Kind of Jazz” is Kind of Good
Norine Braun is a rare artistic talent from Vancouver, British Columbia. Going back to her 1996 release, “Modern Anguish”, Ms. Braun has continued to release highly polished albums flirting with many different genres, performing them all with a style not heard in most independent artists. She has dabbled in blues, folk, Americana, pop and her latest release “Kind of Jazz” is reminiscent of the heyday of the genre in the 1940’s and 50’s when the likes of Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald ruled the street. The record evokes the smoky jazz clubs of the era when the finest and most creative artists of the age played small clubs and venues in New York, Chicago, and New Orleans.
Norine’s songwriting skills are exceptional and her voice has the sultry quality so necessary to carry off songs in this oeuvre. Make no mistake, this record evokes a bygone time but is fully rooted in today’s music. It is one of the few modern jazz records I have heard that does not sound forced or fake in some way. Ms. Braun slides from one style to another as easily as a chameleon changes his colors. Braun has been compared to KD Lang, Melissa Etheridge and Stevie Nicks but on this release, this reviewer hears more Tracy Thorn of Everything but the Girl, Ricki Lee Jones and Sade than the aforementioned divas.
The album’s production is first class all the way and the arrangements show off Braun’s skill as a singer to great effect. Fans of folk and pop will find much to like here, as well as jazz aficionados. The entire album is notable and the first three tracks, ‘Crystallize’, ‘The Perfect Love Affair’, and ‘Tips and Not Trouble’ are all breakout compositions. Norine Braun has hit her stride with this April 2015 release and is surely an artist to watch in the coming years. Rob Penland The Mad Music Asylum
Norine Braun – Some Smooth Jazz Sounds For Your Weekend by Indiebandguru
We have talked recently about using music to change your mood and put you in the right mindset for what you need to accomplish. After a rather rough week needing some high tempo music to keep the motor going we have finally reached Friday and can use some sounds to soothe the mind and soul. Luckily we came across Norine Braun just in time.
The singer songwriter from Vancouver, British Columbia crafts a sound with a wide array of musical elements. Norine’s distinctive sound has been featured on her full catalog of 9 albums. There has been blues, roots, rock, and some americana shared throughout and she has earned some high recognition such as winning the Jazz Female singer/songwriter of the year award at the Los Angeles Music Awards.
Last week Norine Braun released a new record Kind Of Jazz. The 11 song collection brings the soft jazz and mellow stylings of her past records to one complete easy listening set. Album opener “Crystallize” showcases many of these talents. There is a beauty to the sound with Norine’s vocals playing with your emotions in an imaginative way. The full soft Jazz vibe is featured on “Tips And Not Trouble”. The silky vocals can put anyone in a relaxed mood. “Paint” continues this trend. The standout track “Gently” is a funky little number with some interesting slap bass sounds to speed up the heart rate while remaining super smooth. The mind relaxing vibe moves forward all the way to closer “Skylight” with its Jazz piano based sound accompanying more of Norine Braun’s beautiful vocals. We can all use an album like this heading into the weekend. Listen for yourself at: https://norinebraun.bandcamp.com/
“Norine Braun creates an air of excitement in her music that reminds one of such artists as This Mortal Coil, Nico and Patti Smith. Like these performers Norine's work avoids cliches & ghettos.”
— Radio Wymsey Music Channel