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Basia Bulat's romantic interlude

Article featured in the February edition of Exclaim! Magazine

“I’m kind of all over the place right now,” Basia Bulat says over the phone about her current “homeless” state. Today, the 25-year-old is fighting her way through the bitter cold Montreal weather to get to the office of her label Secret City Records. Tomorrow, she has no idea where she’ll be. Thus has been the folk pop artist’s life since releasing her critically acclaimed and Polaris-nominated debut Oh My Darling in 2007. “I travel so much that I feel like I don’t have a proper home right now.”

Bulat had never toured in her life before setting Oh My Darling free three years ago. Now she wheels her autoharp and jubilant tunes around all over the world. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pin her down in Montreal, Toronto, or at Western University in London where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in English literature (her degree is on hold at the moment, for obvious reasons).

The absence of a physical home hasn’t dampened the spirits of this self-proclaimed literature nerd who harbours an intense adoration for the Bronte sisters. The insane touring schedules and constant movement that accompanied Oh My Darling awoke Bulat’s idyllic spirit. She was forced to write from the road, something she’d never done before, which gave rise to all sorts of emotion-drenched convictions. The result is her sophomore effort, Heart Of My Own. “[The record] is me trying to find that constant part of myself, regardless of where I am and where I’m going.”

“Gold Rush,” the first single off of Heart Of My Own, was inspired by the Yukon and Bulat’s aspirations to travel as far north as she could. Bulat dreamt of going to the Yukon while all other kids dreamt of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. “A lot of my ideas about [the Yukon] are just my imagination. That’s kind of what my music is like too.”

The song was written long before Bulat finally found her way to the Yukon’s Dawson City Music Festival in 2008. It romanticized yet warned her of this ideal place she’d created in her mind. “I was thinking a lot about going there, and I was thinking a lot about the reasons why people go there. There’s love, there’s passion, there’s obsession; will going up there also be destroying the thing that attracted me there in the first place? Sometimes the thing that attracts you to the place, the fact that you’re pursuing it, can almost erode what attracted you to it in the first place. The song is also kind of a warning. And really, it can be about any relationship ― with a place or with a person.”

Bulat describes her trip to the Yukon as a fortifying experience. Her travels to that far and distant land eventually influenced the sparse and quiet, yet loud and frolicking, nature of Heart Of My Own. Even the title track, according to Bulat, tries to reconcile emotional extremes as it explores the part of us that stays constant and true while everything else whizzes past.

Bulat’s absent “home” is a great muse on Heart Of My Own, but she has no idea if she’ll find what she’s looking for in the future, or what will happen if she does. “I don’t know. It’s hard to say.” She pauses. “But anywhere that I have my guitar, songs and autoharp, then I feel at home.”

Basia Bulat

Heart Of My Own

By Amanda Ash

Since the release of Basia Bulat’s debut album, Oh My Darling, the folk pop songstress has been touring the world non-stop with her beloved Autoharp in tow. The road gave her time to reflect on her 2008 Polaris Prize shortlist nomination, to absorb her sudden leap into the indie spotlight and, of course, to write many of the absolutely spirited songs found on her sophomore effort, Heart Of My Own. In contrast to Oh My DarlingHeart Of My Own features songs that are slightly longer, more lyrically sophisticated and sonically rounded. The tunes are still as ebullient and carefree as Oh My Darling‘s little gems, like “In The Night” and “Before I Knew,” except they’ve lost that girly feeling and gained a graceful wisdom. Bulat kicks off the album with “Go On,” which serves as a perfect hook for the rest of the record. The vibe is uplifting and hopeful, yet a thread of steadfast caution ties it all together. Many of Bulat’s songs profess romantic ideals, whether they’re of home or of far-off places. “Gold Rush” is a rolling, thundering number inspired by the Yukon. Other songs play a little softer, like “Heart Of My Own.” But the real winner is “Run,” an inspiring song bound to be one of this decade’s top singles. If Heart Of My Own is any indication, Bulat will soon be spending much more time on the road touring her best work yet. (Secret City)

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