It’s safe to say that Canadian born, Basia Bulat, is bringing a little soul to folk music. With two albums and various collaborations in her repertoire, Bulat is past being a new kid on the block yet remains to be an artist waiting to be fully realized by the public. Immediately upon hearing the first words from Bulat’s shaky yet deliberate voice, I was in a sense reminded of the unique vocals of others before her, including – bear with me – Macy Gray. Both artists provide listeners with a sound that does not pretend to be pretty or flawless, but instead thrives and finds beauty upon their own pure humanness. Perhaps in these times of auto-tune in place of real talent, it is something as simple as this that makes Basia stand out. Perhaps this humanness comes out in her sound, her breaths’ waiver between lines. Or, perhaps it’s just the fact that physically she looks like any other you’d run into on the street.
Though this Polish songstress has been on the scene since 2007, the piece that first captured my attention from Bulat was “Heart of My Own” from her 2010 album of the same title. This particular track begins with a short introduction played by the autoharp (her signature instrument), which at first gives the impression that this will be a fairly predictable, melancholy, folk song. Yet within the first 30 seconds, if her striking voice doesn’t suck you in…the strong timbre will in about 10 more. Despite generally not having very many instruments in her music, Bulat has a way of instead placing strong emphasis in the instruments she does use to create a warm, full, sound that captures both the attention of the more lyrical listener as well as the ear of the musician.