Reviews

Basia BulatBasia Bulat
Album: Good Advice
Label: Secret City
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.basiabulat.com

Canada's Juno-nominated Basia Bulat is described on her Wikipedia page as being a folk singer / songwriter…but don't believe everything that you read, nothing is really that simple is it?! On this, her so-called 'break up' album, she has created a multi-faceted shimmering alternative contemporary pop nugget, with respectful nods in the direction of latter-day psychedelia, whilst at the same time somehow bizarrely maintaining and expanding her gospel and country roots. If that sounds all a tad too unlikely then wrap your ears around "Good Advice" and get ready to expand your universe!

In the two years since the release of Bulat's critically acclaimed Juno and Polaris Music Prize nominated "Tall Tall Shadow" album, she has played shows with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Destroyer, Daniel Lanois, Nick Cave and The Tallest Man On Earth and that wide spectrum of influence has surely helped shape her evolving musical identity. Recorded with friend and collaborator Jim James of My Morning Jacket, who says of Bulat, "Basia has something truly unique. Hearing her voice just exploding out of her soul bought us all to tears in the control room. Watching her come out of her shell with great power was an extraordinary thing to witness". She's certainly forging an ever-shifting and delightfully unpredictable musical persona that can only be for the good in terms of musical development.

Songs like "Let Me In" and "Fool" just bounce along on bucketfuls of retro electronica, wrapped around swirling Hammond-esque soundscapes that pull at the very edges of the listeners sensibility. They draw you in to a world where the neon is bright and blinding, where your ears are your guide. Basia brings you close with that big damn voice, betraying only the slightest hint of frailty, but it's welcoming in it's warmth and sincerity and it envelops and comforts. What's the best way to get over heartache, she asks? Big, bold, slightly off-kilter pop songs is obviously the answer in this instance.

It's almost unimaginable to think that this album was conceived in Montreal and given the kiss of life in Kentucky. "The Garden" is a metaphorical train ride across an endless european panoply of musical treasures. And rather surprisingly it all hangs seamlessly together, from the bontempi fist pumping "LaLa Lie" to the Sparks-tinged "Time".

"Good Advice" is an album that is the perfect antidote to all that wailing and despairing, all that gnashing of teeth and angst-ridden lo-fi drabness that is often found masquerading as entertainment. This is quirky, it's meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. This is Basia Bulat casting off the blues and revealing her true self. Take one dose twice a day. You'll soon feel better.

Ken Brown
www.squarerootspromotions.co.uk