Funny I should spend some time this weekend enjoying Jenna Maroney's risky portrayal of Jackie Jormp-Jomp, because although I haven't digested everything Joplin has done, I began wondering if there was a voice in today's music world with similar tastes and styles. Now I'm not a kingmaker and I don't declare when X is the new Y, but Basia Bulat certainly seems to have the lush songwriting, guitar plucking, and textures to be comparable or at least considerable. The similarities aside from "both of them are woman" aren't totally there... I think it is mostly the voice that gets me. They both have a folk-sense and a very recognizable croon. I admit, Bulat is a lot softer and warmer with her tones, even when she gets cooking on the more bombastic tracks. If Joplin is Texan Americana, then Bulat feels like the plains. Funny that she is actually from Canada.
Makes sense though, Canada is churning out the most incredible stuff these days. Basia Bulat feels like a missing piece of the Woodstock puzzle, a flower-child folk artist with a distinct voice and a preoccupation with love and nature. Although she makes good use of horns and other frills, Bulat doesn't need anything beyond an acoustic guitar and a tambourine. She excels at the wording, her lyrics and song titles ("Gold Rush", "Sugar and Spice") are so fitting for her style. Title track "Heart Of My Own" is beautiful and charged, with talk of things burning, homes and roaming and shadows. All images that seem to match a marching drum and tambourine combo.
Heart Of My Own
is art as life, and life as art, in a more literal down-to-earth sense than the current pop world. Rhetorically speaking, the songs match their descriptors. "Sparrow" is small and cute and fluttery, "The Shore" is vast and contemplative, "Gold Rush" is quick and excited. Part of the folk aesthetic is simplicity of expectation, so it is fitting that the conversation is often . No one is trying to reinterpret the wheel here, the folk-way is describe it down to the most minuscule of details, with an extreme amount of garnish. In a genre of traditions, Bulat plays the part with a smile and a blanket of sound.
Although folk isn't at the same level of dissemination that it once was, it is truly comforting to hear such affecting tunes making their way to the studio. In our dystopian society of Ke$has (the worst) and Lady GaGas, the female artist has been transformed into some sort of party-whore, zeitgeist hungry weirdo. Screw the Fergies, there is a reason those hippies lasted all these years in our record players. And Bulat has taken her rightful place by their side. -joe puglisi
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MP3: Basia Bulat - "Heart Of My Own" (Heart Of My Own)
Basia Bulat on Myspace