Review Summary: Familiarity contempt milquetoast
Picture it: you're a fabulous decaying theatre. The balustrades are worn with blots of wood shaved patina. The seats look inviting in lamplight, disgusting in floodlight. You are wearing your best jacket. Songbirds, tyrants, and jesters have been swallowed up and reborn passing through three storey high curtains. And then, there are puny blips of polite cello, and you think "Wait, I know that". Now you're cradling your chin between your thumb and index. You are craving a canape but you're not sure why. Oh yeah, it's 'Halo'.
Blame Simon Cowell. Blame Ellie Goulding. Blame reality TV in general I guess. Even Donnie Darko probably had a hand in it. The formula has been refined; find modest pop songs, or giant production songs, or indie classics, or familiar novelty tracks. Once you've taken aim at your ubiquitous prey, 'strip' them down to their 'essentials'. This is code for singing everything in one of two ways: pretty ethereal but not too ethereal, or emotional caricature (Brun goes with the former). Pair it with basic, fairly innocuous backing that still manages to avoid any mystery, true sparseness, or feeling. You've supposedly exposed hidden depths (ironically you've erased the nuances that generate any personality), and you've shown 'creativity' through earnestness. The most hilarious part of this desertification of interpretation is when Brun eviscerates already stripped down songs like 'True Colors'.
Does the world need another tepid cover of 'Feeling Good'? Does 'Halo' need the massive vocal and almost biblical dramatic excess to work? (yes). Does stripping out the delusional grandeur of 'Big in Japan' render the song toothless? (yes). On that point, the cover of 'Big in Japan' sums up everything that's wrong with this project. If it's too perfect, if it's too neat, then it just exists to cleanse the palate after courses at a high tea. Here even the lemon sorbet is loaded with disguised palm oil and corn syrup.
Cover albums are usually a little unnecessary, but occasionally they help us to understand an artist we like - a glimpse into the clearest influences, or shining a light on a deep cut lost in time that is the missing link in their DNA. Maybe there's an inspired interpretation, or an update, or a performance which gives the song new life. Even just detecting unabashed love of a track can buy some goodwill. Brun does very little of those things here with this homogeneous stew. Thank providence there isn't a cover of 'Never Tear Us Apart' on this.