Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
The acclaim that followed Basia Bulat throughout the past couple of years won’t be fleeting; if 2007’s Oh My Darling was a sweet and capable singer-songwriter’s debut, Heart of My Own, out next week on Secret City Records, is a statement of not only that raw talent, but of every nuance that has influenced Bulat’s writing and performance since her last release and shaped her into the assured, grounded presence found here.
Expanding on some of the most engaging full-band moments from the last record and turning them into the bulk of Heart of My Own is the most notable—and welcomed—change; a solid touring schedule no doubt brought a taste for this energy, and Bulat’s band delivers, verging on raucous but always under control. Brother Bulat, Bobby, ditches the bongos for a full kit that rightfully sits nice and high in most of the mix (courtesy of Montreal superproducer Howard Bilerman) rolling right along with the strings in songs like opener “Go On” into Celtic bluegrass territory, while here and in the killer lead single, “Gold Rush” (streaming above), sister Basia still manages to equally channel Sam Cooke’s pop soul and Joni Mitchell’s earnest folk narration into an instantly relatable everygirl sound of her own. How she manages to sound the prototypical ingénue while dishing the very tales that make a record is testament to the rare character Bulat possesses; even in the album’s most somber moment, “The Shore,” with its stark vocal choruses and elegant, manipulated harp, Bulat sings like the reflecting has already been done, and what she delivers is the subsequent humility that is native to her sound.
There is more to Bulat than a collection of good songs. It’s hard to decode what exactly makes her so disarming, but it could very well be this unassuming young wisdom, and the quiet comfort and even trust it invites. What’s most admirable about Heart of My Own is that it is a leap—a perfect example of an artist being conscious of change and advancing at every opportunity.