Barbara Josephine Bulat, better known as Basia Bulat, is a Canadian folk singer-songwriter who is coming to St. Catharines’ FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre this November 29. Bulat has spent time touring this past year, after the release of her fourth full-length album, Good Advice, which was released on February 12. Good Advice is essentially a break-up album but, more than that, it explores emotions beyond the bitterness that often takes over albums written about the end of a relationship. Bulat takes a mature look at the events leading up to and following her break from a long-term relationship, exploring the process of falling out of love and all that it entails.
Good Advice is poppier than anything Bulat has done before, despite its often vulnerable lyricism. The title track , “Good Advice”, track seven “Infamous” and track ten’s “Someday Soon” embody the idea and act of being vulnerable. Bulat thinks aloud in “Good Advice” on the hurt of falling out of love with someone, calls for her lover to come back but stay away with two warring emotions in “Infamous” and finally wonders, in some pain and some curiosity, when her ex-love will stop thinking of her now that she’s gone. These lyrics are sad and honest, and Bulat is able to speak loudly on love and loss through their verses.
“I think the song is really coming from a place where I wanted to reflect everything that I was going through,” said Bulat in regards to the closing track, “Someday Soon”. “Yes, I was feeling a lot of pain and a lot of sadness about the end of important relationships in my life, about big changes, and I had a lot of fear of the unknown and the fear of being alone. However, I also felt so grateful for this time I spent with somebody who changed my life. I wanted it to be a real message of love or peace, or of letting go.”
As her record progresses, it integrates more soul and folk sound and goes from poppy, indie 80s to alt. pop-folk, with a bit of soul. The album works through the many stages of a break up, making it clear that falling out of love brings hurt along with the loss, as well as excitement at new possibilities. Most importantly, it explores the idea of being thankful for getting to know someone over a long period of time, and meditating on all the growth and positive experiences that came with it. It’s sad but it’s good, and the right step to take is to move on — Bulat affirms that although it’s difficult, it’s important to leave when it’s time.
Bulat is known for performing with an auto-harp, which is close in relation to a German chorded “zither”, a name historically applied to any instrument consisting of many strings stretched across a thin, flat body. In an interview with Chris Bay of Gold Soundz, Bulat discusses the evolution of her music.
“As an artist, you want to grow and you don’t want to repeat yourself,” said Bulat. “You don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I think anybody as a person doesn’t want to do the same thing over and over again for their whole life. That’s kind of the magical thing, is that it’s going to happen no matter what, and if you stay open to it, then it might just happen a little faster.”
Bulat originally came from a folk background with a distinct interest in documentation as recording, the process of simply playing and recording music with little to no alteration while in studio. Although she was interested, it was also often out of necessity that her recordings were documentary; she says, she’s become more interested in using the studio as an instrument in and of itself. Bulat also noted in an interview with Music and Riots that she will always, no matter what her inspiration or influence in the music, love having a lot of girls sing really loud back-up vocals with her on stage or in the studio.
“I’ve never had a chance to really dance onstage before,” said Bulat in an interview with Hilary Hughers of Nylon. “Sometimes I get a little bit of a break and I can run around. It’s still the most physical show I’ve done, the most challenging vocally. There’s a lot going on, but at the same time, it becomes easier, because I allow the spirit of letting myself be fragile onstage to take over. People just lift you up. It’s a really magical thing.”
Basia Bulat will be playing St. Catharines’ FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, November 29 at 7:00 p.m. Visit https://www.firstontariopac.ca for more information.