The record, adorned with impossibly awesome cover art by Kaycee Anseth, is an indie folk gem and evidence of a songwriter with influences that are at the same time contemporary and classic. On the album's title track, Braun's folk sensibilities shine through an orchestral tapestry as brightly as her trademark streak of blonde hair. That song, as well as others, including the emotional "Named After You," gets some help from a bevy of excellent Portland musicians, including The Decemberists' Jenny Conlee and members of the Portland Cello Project. In fact, Douglas Jenkins, the creative director of the popular string ensemble that backs her throughout the album, produced and arranged the album.
House of Snow is a follow up to Brauns' last solo effort, Closed for the Season, but whereas that album featured an almost Ani DiFranco-inspired edge to it, this album is far smoother in its presentation, seemingly drawing on the folk rock sounds that have all but dominated indie music in the Northwest for the past few years. We hear this most on her cover of Okkervil River's "Westfall" and the whimsical "Love." It's been a pleasure watching Brauns' progress during her time in Bend and this album reveals an artist who seems to have found her footing. - Mike Bookey
Laurel Brauns CD Release Party
8pm Friday, September 16. PoetHouse Art, 55 NW Minnesota Ave. $5 or $15 for entry and a copy of the album.