Canadian Folk chanteuse Basia Bulat exhibited all the standard genre traits on her first two albums, 2007’s Oh, My Darling and 2010’s Heart of My Own — quietly reflective lyrics, acoustic intimacy, honey-and-bourbon vocals. And Bulat has certainly been recognized for her efforts, with a fair number of well-deserved Joni Mitchell comparisons and a short list nomination for 2008’s Polaris Music Prize for Oh, My Darling, an album that was originally intended to be nothing more than a personal document of her work with former Arcade Fire drummer Howard Bilerman at his renowned Hotel 2 Tango studio.
But it’s her latest album, the recently released Tall Tall Shadow, that has fans and critics alike buzzing with excitement, from the album’s dynamic range of more energetic, Rock-tinged arrangements and heart-rending quietude to Bulat’s powerful yet vulnerable voice, an effective blend of Tracy Chapman and Florence Welch, to lyrics that are slightly more enigmatic and less narrative than her previous releases.
Bulat’s love of music clearly stems from her mother, a teacher of guitar and piano in their native Ontario.
As a result, Bulat excels on both of those instruments, as well as autoharp, dulcimer, ukulele and charango, a small Bolivian hybrid of guitar and lute. While earning her English degree at the University of Western Ontario, she was encouraged by friends to secure the opening slot for a Julie Doiron show, which essentially launched Bulat’s career by attracting a loyal local audience. She released her eponymous debut EP in 2005 and signed to Rough Trade for Darling and Heart of My Own. Tall Tall Shadow was issued in September by Secret City, which had handled Heart of My Own’s Canadian release.The initial response to Tall Tall Shadow has been overwhelmingly positive — The New York Times compared her to Fleetwood Mac and Huffington Post dubbed her “this generation’s Joni Mitchell” — and it will hardly be a surprise if Basia Bulat shows up on an impressive number of best-of-2013 lists. For all the praise Bulat has enjoyed for Shadow, the accolades for her live appearances have been even more effusive; she seems to be one of those rare artists who could enrapture an audience made up of people who had never heard of her before buying their ticket. Which you are advised to do.
BASIA BULAT performs Sunday, Nov. 10 with Foreign Fields at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.