Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Norine Braun will release her 12th album on December 4, aptly entitled December Falls. An album of Christmas songs, December Falls belies the idea that holiday albums are passé – it’s oh so good.
Produced by Adam Popowitz, the album features the talents of Vancouver’s crème de la crème: Elliot Polsky (drums, percussion), Alice Fraser (keys, vocal harmony), Huggybear Leonard (blues harp, harmonica, pennywhistle), Brent Mah ( tenor sax), Adam Popowitz (bass, lead guitar), Toby Peter Bajan (spoken word), and Norine Braun (rhythm guitar, vocals).
The recipient of a never-ending list of awards and grants, Norine Braun has performed all over the globe, including NYC, Quebec City, and Tokyo, along with performing at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Indigifest 2019, Talking Stick Festival, Richmond Maritime Festival, and Vancouver’s Pride Festival.
Of mixed ancestry – Metis, and Ukrainian – Norine self-identifies as Two Spirit.
Encompassing a dozen tracks, December Falls begins with “Solstice (This Day the Sun Stands Still),” a blues-rock-flavored tune riding a throbbing bassline topped by gentle, swirling colors rife with optimistic hues. Norine’s delicious voice imbues the lyrics with sumptuous tones. A tight, gorgeous sax injects the tune with lush notes.
Highlights on the album, from a subjective standpoint, include “The Winter After Elvis Died,” a heady ‘70s-laced tune featuring Brent Mah’s lusciously braying sax, channeling Clarence Clemons. “Poinsettia Pearl” rolls forth on rambling, bluesy rock savors, punchy and rollicking. A dazzling dirty guitar solo gives the tune intense fiery pizzazz.
On the song made famous by Elvis, “Blue Christmas,” Norine struts her grand voice, whereas on George Michael’s “Last Christmas,” she offers nostalgia and regret as she narrates the heartache of the previous holiday season.
Norine’s version of “Silent Night” might be the album’s best track, conveying a rock-lite rendition of the tune, chock-full of bluesy savors and harmonic heft.
December Falls bestows Christmas with tasty blues-rock tangs, enhanced by the scrumptious evocative textures of the alluring voice of Norine Braun.