The lead cut of this CD, Truth and Dares, shows us a woman nominally somewhere between the Wilson sisters (Heart) and Joni Mitchell, a solo track with jazzy acoustic guitar and Norine Braun's capable folk voice, one of those able to shed vibrato and carry it off. The second track is by way of Janis Ian. It, like its predecessor is also just Braun, as is most of the disc, and I'm more than fine with that, as she possesses the skill to center everything on just her singing and playing. There are problems, though.
Most of the 16 cuts here were done live in studio. Some are superb, others less so (Take Back the Power, Christmas Bells) due to middling lyrics, some are haunting (Love & Not Fear, Be Brave, for instance) but all demonstrate a voice and talent that, through a history commencing in 1996, is very close to its plateau. Not all the poetry matches cuts like Truth and Dares and, hey, folk music's lifeblood is in its words, nor is the release, her seventh, consistently up to its several zeniths. The problem lies in Braun's self-production, which is a bit too self-indulgent in places, requiring outside ears for discipline. When she's on it, she nails what she really is; when she's not in the pocket, well, that's where a stringent exterior judgment would be invaluable, because that's where things tend to wander and flatten out.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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