Basia Bulat: Are You In Love?

review basia bulat x1 cong

This is a decent pop album that, without being great, manages to wriggle its way into your affections.

The chief appeal is her voice, which manages to be throaty and powerful without being too dominant, and while sounding calming. She’s got deep-ish vocals and the sound is slightly wistful, while also being bold. Wistful is perhaps not surprising given the nature of the recording: in the middle of making it, she took a year off – she fell in love and her father died, and she “lost her sense of beauty and where it might be hidden”.

At heart it’s a pop album but she plays around enough with the sound and texture to make it interesting. It’s mostly slow but often sounds like it’s about to break out into a big sound worthy of a Hollywood romcom.

The title track opens and it’s a good indicator of what follows, moving from being fairly dramatic to more gentle and thoughtful, Bulat giving her voice a full warm-up. Electric Roses follows, which melds strings with a song that straddles the ground between country and indie ballads, as does Homesick. Your Girl changes mood, a tight pop tune that reminded us of something Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) might pump out .. the Kiley is possibly a good comparison as the album has a similar loose feel to Kiley in their best, suggestive of carefree moments and chilling out. Light Years is next, maybe a bit Bright Eyes.

Standouts are the minimalist but atmospheric Pale Blue and Fables, the latter possibly about her father, “My love for you is bold but it can’t save you”.

While you might claim it’s much of a similar sound all the way through, closer Love Is At The End Of The World is another standout, Bulat keeping the quality control high.

In her native Canada, Bulat is a three-time Polaris Music Prize finalist and has been nominated for three Juno awards. She has performed in festivals such as Montreux Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits and Newport Folk Festival.

 

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About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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