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Review

Basia Bulat - Good Advice


"Canadian chanteuse goes pop on her latest release."

 

Review by Graham McCusker
Posted on 2016-02-04 20:42:51
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‘Good Advice’, the fourth record from Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat, has required her to step out of her comfort zone. After all of her previous albums were recorded near her home in Montreal, ‘Good Advice’ was recorded 900 miles away in Kentucky. Bulat borrowed her mother’s car and made three long trips to hook up with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (who takes up production duties) and transform her acoustic demos telling of a recent breakup into lush-sounding pop songs.

‘La La Lie’ pounds the album into life with a heavenly sounding organ and throbbing drumbeats giving way to an effortlessly catchy chorus before ‘Long Goodbye’ rumbles and rolls around twirling synths ahead of another killer chorus twisting the song into a whole other direction. In two songs, the Canadian has delivered hooks the likes of which Taylor Swift would kill for. While the lyrical content is of a failing relationship, it contrasts to the dreamy production and uplifting pop sound of the songs and works magnificently. The Motown-inspired duo of ‘Let Me In’ and ‘In The Name Of’ follow, the latter particularly indebted to the Supremes, with the call-and-response verses sung with the sassiness of someone who may well be totally over it, but deep down still bears the emotional scars.

It is around the halfway mark that ‘Good Advice’ starts to sound more like how a breakup album should ordinarily sound. As Bulat sings “every part of me, I buried alive” on ‘Time’, it is the first time we get a truly get a glimpse into a more delicate aspect of her psyche. After a brief upturn in tempo with single ‘Infamous’, the album ends on a more sombre note with ‘The Garden’, which wouldn’t sound out of place amongst Feist’s back catalogue, and ‘Someday Soon’ - a hauntingly beautiful ballad, the kind of which Lana Del Rey has spent her career desperate to make. Bulat delivers it with more emotive authenticity than she could ever dream of.

It has been a shrewd move by Basia Bulat to change her musical direction. Ditching the odd-instruments (Bulat has used the autoharp and charango on her previous albums), the newfound pop sensibilities benefit her phenomenal vocal more than anything. With that wonderful voice reminiscent of Dusty Springfield combined with the rough edges of Stevie Nicks, it is now that the Canadian songstress appears to be making the step up from trendy indie darling to mainstream consciousness. It may only be February, but it would be a travesty if Good Advice didnt make the year-end best of lists.

Good Advice is released on February 12th on CD/Vinyl/Download.

Basia Bulat tours the UK in April, calling at Broadcast on the 15th.


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