Album Review: Basia Bulat – Heart of My Own

by Jason LeRoy on January 25, 2010

Listening to the music of Basia Bulat is an unabashedly heart-hugging delight. The 26-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter first established herself as one of the brightest young talents in the folk-rock scene with her insanely lovable debut LP, Oh, My Darling (2007), and makes overwhelmingly good on that early potential with her sophomore release, Heart of My Own.

Bulat’s style of singing and songwriting is heartfelt, intimate, and immediate — but without any garish saccharine grossness. You can feel Bulat’s heart beating beneath each of her songs, through her plaintive voice and the pitch-perfect arrangements. The diverse instrumentation is one essential way Heart of My Own builds upon the considerable accomplishments of Oh, My Darling; Bulat alone plays autoharp, guitar, piano, organ, pianoette, banjo, ukulele, and bass, not to mention the contributions of the rest of her band. Tracks like “Go On” and “If Only You” capture Bulat and her friends at their very best, joining together to make a gorgeous racket.

Bulat’s sound has been described as “spiritual folk,” and there is certainly something warming and uplifting about her music. But what separates Bulat from the pack is her ability to communicate these feelings with both subtle grace and unrestrained delight. There is nothing overt or clunky about her lyrics; rather, it is the unexpected chord progressions, the arrangements, and Bulat’s fearlessly joyful delivery that reach you through their collaborative magic. The resulting sound is like a playful female Sufjan Stevens, or a more accessible Bodies of Water. But, awkward comparisons aside, Bulat’s voice is truly and entirely her own. And she creates beautiful music, plain and simple.

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