Canadian artist Norm Brunet is something of an anomaly. Born in Quebec and raised in Ottawa, he’s had significant success in Canada as a Country artist; a genre dominated by American artists and not as prevalent in the Great White North. Thematically, there’s a little bit of something for everyone in his music. He tends to write songs about second-hand experiences and problems that his friends have come to him with, making his music incredibly empathetic and relatable. Sonically, his raspy vocals and southern tone create Country tracks that anyone and everyone can enjoy. It’s this everyman mentality and ability to inject emotion into his music that makes him a compelling storyteller as well as an excellent musician. His latest album, “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This,” is a collection of ten songs that make you smile, make you cry, but most importantly, make you feel.
If it was possible to quantify feelings and measure them, the first track on the album, “Can’t Stop Thinking,” would break the scale. A slow jam about repressed love, Brunet’s smoky vocals serve as a catalyst that triggers an emotional response rivaled by the likes of Americana mainstays such as the man in black, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. A country artist singing about love is like an action hero walking away from an explosion; It’s painfully cliche. But now and then something special will come along and shake that stigma whether it be through an incredible performance or some other factor. In the case of “Can’t Stop Thinking,” it’s Brunet’s soulful delivery that allows the audience to empathize with his music so well. The song is ultimately anything but cliche.
Continuing with the cliche country themes, “Good Times and Tan Lines,” is about precisely that; enjoying a hot summer day, kicking back with a drink, and having fun with your friends. It’s a catchy track that doesn’t take itself as seriously as “Can’t Stop Thinking.” It’s less about bringing forth profound emotion and more about enjoying the ride. The upbeat nature of the song is a nice contrast to that of Brunet’s more melancholy tunes. Not every song has to be profoundly thoughtful or emotionally charged. This song is a perfect example of that. It’s a testament to an artist’s versatility when they can make music meant to make you think, as well as write tracks that are simpler, but still wholly enjoyable. A catchy hook and memorable lyrics can be just as compelling as songs rooted in deep thought; the only difference being the intention of the song.
“If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t say it. I don’t force the matter. It has to come from the heart or nothing. The creative process of this album started when I simply noticed around me how there is an abundance of inspiration! My songs are about real people, real situations and for the most part, tell a story that the listener can relate to.” [sic]
This quote from Brunet perfectly defines what “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This” is about. It’s an honest album with each song coming from the heart. There’s nothing more relatable than living life, and Brunet proves that with this record. Every track is about experiences or struggles that he’s dealt with, or his friends have lived through and had confided in him. More than just another everyman in country music, Norm Brunet is infinitely talented and has had quite a bit of success in a genre that for all intents and purposes, he shouldn’t have.