Album Review: Norine Braun “Through Train Windows”

Article By Mariko Margetson

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 coziness 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 it’s 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.

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