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. About the only complaint I have of the overall package and the only piece of constructive criticism I could offer is that I would hire a graphic artist to design album art that befits the quality and sophistication of this collection.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.