|Basia Bulat — Tall Tall Shadow (2013)|
Basia Bulat — Tall Tall Shadow
Born: April 13, 1984, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Origin: Etobicoke ~ London, Ontario
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, autoharp, hammered dulcimer, piano, ukelele, charango
Album release: October 1, 2013/September 30th (UK, Europe)
Record Label: Secret City Records
01. Tall Tall Shadow (4:03)
02. Five, Four (3:59)
03. Promise Not To Think About Love (2:24)
04. It Can't Be You (3:58)
05. Wires (3:32)
06. The City With No Rivers (3:24)
07. Someone (3:16)
08. Paris Or Amsterdam (3:06)
09. Never Let Me Go (4:15)
10. From Now On (2:25)
By Sean Michaels
♦◊♦ Tall Tall Shadow, the third album by Toronto singer–songwriter Basia Bulat, is the bravest album she has made. Raw and spectral, heartbroken, yet jubilant, these ten songs tell the story of a very hard year in the artist’s life and all the love that helped her through it.
♦◊♦ Whereas the singer’s past two LPs, including 2008’s Polaris–nominated Oh, My Darling, were made in Montreal’s all-–nalogue Hotel 2 Stango studio, Tall Tall Shadow is a more modern thing. This is a record with echo and reverb, electronic flutters and electric autoharp, voices that charge and incandesce around buzzing guitars, lonely piano and rattling percussion.
♦◊♦ To get to this place, Bulat co–produced the album with, Tim Kingsbury and Mark Lawson. Kingsbury, a member of Arcade Fire, “can play anything and everything,” she says. Lawson, who has worked on records with Akron/Family and Colin Stetson, and who won a Grammy for his work on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, is a studio alchemist, someone who “hears things” hidden in songs, who is always keen to transform them.
♦◊♦ They started recording in Toronto, at a reverberating 60–year–old dance hall. Once again, Bulat put together a band: her brother, the punk–inclined drummer Bobby Bulat; Holly Coish on keys and backing vocals; Kingsbury and Ben Whiteley on guitars and bass. One song features Whiteley’s father, the folk legend Ken Whiteley, on gospel organ. But Tall Tall Shadow isn’t acoustic folk music: like Beck’s Sea Change or Buckingham Nicks, chord and strum are a launch–pad for wilder sounds.
♦◊♦ Bulat’s goal was to keep challenging herself. “Promise Not to Think About Love,” with shimmying bass and dancing handclaps, is the poppiest track she has ever released. “It Can’t Be You,” played on an Andean charango, is one of the simplest. ♦◊♦ “Never Let Me Go” is all crescendo, a woman in a storm, and the title track reaches soaring for the sky: has there ever been a better showcase for Bulat's powerhouse voice? For her steam–train heart?
♦◊♦ “Two months before I was due to begin recording, I suffered a deep loss,” Bulat says. “I kind of started over.” She started; and she didn't stop.
♦◊♦ “On her third offering in six years, Basia Bulat has evolved from being an intimate, folk–oriented Canadian songwriter to swinging for the indie pop fences. On Tall Tall Shadow she embraces a bright, expansive, dynamic soundscape, where her heretofore trademark autoharp has been all but left in the corner. Co–produced by the artist with fellow Canadians Tim Kingsbury of Arcade Fire and engineer Mark Lawson, and mixed alternately by Lawson and Howard Bilerman (Bulat’s former producer), these ten songs reveal true musical growth, as hooks and infectious melodies abound.
Tall Tall Shadow is easily the songwriter’s most fully realized effort; it should expand her audience reach considerably — even if it leaves some of her more purist followers by the wayside."
♦◊♦ Basia Bulat, la chanteuse canadienne d'origine polonaise met de la pop dans ses folk songs.
♦◊♦ Bulat received Juno Award nominations for 2010′s Heart of my Own and was shortlisted for the 2007 Polaris Prize for her debut album Oh, My Darling.
♦◊♦ Tall Tall Shadow is is raw and joyful and tells the story of a difficult year for Bullat, and how love helped her.
♦◊♦ “This time around I felt braver,” said Bulat. “I wanted to play with electric and electronic sounds, exploring the boundaries of the folk music some people know me for.”
♦◊♦ On Tall Tall Shadow she moved from writing songs on guitar and autoharp to writing on the piano. It was partially recorded in a 60-year-old dance hall and was co-produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Mark Lawson and Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury.
♦◊♦ “Mark hears things in my songs that surprise me,” said Bulat. “Tim’s my good luck charm; he can play almost anything and everything, and my best vocal takes happen whenever he’s in the room.”
♦◊♦ Over the course of her first two records, Toronto’s Basia Bulat has crafted a musical persona built around folk–pop that can be as bare and affecting with the best of them, but really wins hearts when it’s upbeat and joyous and feels like a warm ray of aural sunshine. Assuming that her just-announced third album Tall Tall Shadow will simply offer more of the same, however, may be premature.
♦◊♦ She’s not going electronic or anything — well, maybe a bit but not so much that the Canadian indie–rock rulebook demands she assume a new identity — but advance word is that Shadow still represents a significant change in modus operandi. Howard Bilerman, who produced the first two records, has stepped aside for Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury and Mark Lawson, who engineered The Suburbs; the piano was adopted as a primary composition instrument alongside or even over the guitar; a personal tragedy altered and informed the songwriting; and most importantly, Bulat challenged her own expectations about what she should or could sound like.
♦◊♦ The fruits of this creative process can be heard in full when Tall Tall Shadow is released October 1, but the first of the new songs — the album’s title track — is available to stream now. Exclaim has more album details and an expanded Fall itinerary, with more North American dates being added to the already–announced hometown show at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10.
♦◊♦ Basia Bulat (2005, EP)
♦◊♦ Oh, My Darling (2007)
♦◊♦ Touch the Hem of His Garment (2008, 7”)
♦◊♦ Heart of My Own (2010)
♦◊♦ Tall Tall Shadow (2013)
♦◊♦ Friends in Bellwoods II (2009): “My Heart Is a Warning”
♦◊♦ Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux (2010): “You Are A Gift”
|Basia Bulat — Tall Tall Shadow (2013)|