It’s unusual for an artist signed to a high-profile label to play a record-release show at a venue where audiences pass the hat to pay the performers — and even more curious to have that label’s reps toss greenbacks into said hat during the artist’s perf.
That was the scene, however, when Norwegian-born singer-songwriter Ane Brun hit Gotham on Tuesday to mark the release of her V2 debut, “A Temporary Dive.” Brun, who rose to chart prominence in Scandinavia a few years back with a series of discs released on her own label, offered up a set at once Spartan in simplicity — she played solo, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar — and tantalizingly panoramic.
Neither ingenue nor instigator, Brun busies herself with storytelling, crafting incisive mini-dramas that usually focus on characters who’ve just touched bottom, but are doing their best to believe their feet are on springboards and not mired in quicksand.
That sense of perseverance was captured vibrantly in the opening song “Rubber and Soul,” which showcased both a lyrical dexterity and a graceful, slightly loopy guitar style. It also shone through the verses of the as-yet-unrecorded “Gillian Played Me a Song,” on which Brun tipped her hat to Gillian Welch, clearly a fellow traveler in terms of spirit, if not necessarily style.
While Brun exudes a fair degree of Scandinavian coolness, she’s no ice princess. Leavening her moody offerings with relaxed banter that belied the sharpness of songs like the title track of “A Temporary Dive,” Brun conveyed an artlessness that was hard to resist.
Stripped of the atmospherics that swathe their recorded versions — and, in the case of “Song No. 6,” the harmony vocals of Ron Sexsmith — the songs blurred together now and then. But even in that haze, Brun’s lure was easy to follow.