REVIEW: Norine Braun – ‘Conventus The Eye of the Heart’

Norine Braun

Artist: Norine Braun
Album: Conventus The Eye of the Heart
Genre: Alternative, Blues

From the opening minutes of Conventus The Eye of the Heart, two things become clear. One: Norine Braun has soul and knows how to put in into music. Two: she also knows how to wisely choose her backing musicians to best represent the direction she wishes to develop her sound. Alas, one plus two doesn’t necessarily equal a desire for repeat listens.

There’s perhaps a bit of irony in my second statement, however. Braun can certainly pick ’em, but ultimately for the better half of the album, the instrumentation shines above all else. That’s not to say that Braun can’t carry a tune but the variety of instruments and arrangements found throughout Conventus are definitely its best quality. Although the album was clearly written out with specific intentions, a lot of it feels like a jam session, which is no complaint, trust me. Many aspects and instrumental moments feel almost improvised in the heat of the moment and it plays well, if not perfectly. The sporadic keys on the opening track for example just add that extra dash of something special that allows “Lightning Strikes Twice” to become something it may have not been otherwise. The infrequent guitar noodling on “The Perfect Love Affair” is another similar case where it feels somewhat ad-libbed but makes the track what it is. This happens often throughout the effort, sometimes working wonders, and at others feeling somewhat forced. That could be due in part to the mixing which seems to allow whichever instrument is taking the lead to become much louder than the others and force itself into the forefront of the overall mix, which ofttimes can obviously become slightly obnoxious.

Now to touch on Braun’s vocal approach, it has a kind of ebb and flow that moves along nicely with the moods of each track. At times it could be considered an acquired taste but there’s no doubt that it coincides with the material here. A mellow Patti Smith would be an apt comparison with moments seemingly drawing influences from the likes of Alanis Morissette and artists of her ilk, but those two have certainly been considered acquired tastes by many too I’m sure.

My favorite facet of Conventus is the fact that you can tell that Braun had fun making the album. There’s this very organic element to the execution on each track and somehow Braun’s joy exudes from her delivery which gives the album a unique element. Even if the lyrical content isn’t necessarily cheerful in tone, you can sense the pride in the projection.

Despite its obvious afflictions, Braun and her band are creating the music that they want to and it shows, with heart. As I may not be the intended demographic, I can definitely see where this would be far more appealing to some. I appreciate the musicianship that went into Conventus The Eye of the Heart. When Braun’s vocal delivery works, it’s spot-on, and the arrangements and structures of the tracks are impressive, but it’s hard to overlook the lack of cohesive circulation from track to track and the faults that lie within the production.

SCORE: 6/10
Review written by: Brian Lion — (Follow him on Twitter)

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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