Basia Bulat Review and Giveaway


I don’t really understand the classification of Folk music. There’s so many sub-genres and variations, and the only tie I can usually make is that it might be primarily acoustic? Folk artists of the 60s tend to pop into my mind first, then I think of Eugene Levy’s character in “A Mighty Wind.”

Basia Bulat is largely considered a folk artist. You’ll read that she plays the autoharp. You might also hear that this album was primarily written while touring through the Yukon. All of these details set a certain expectation for some typically sleepy folk music, right? So you put this record on your turntable and sit back expecting something wistful and sleepy and then the first track ‘Go On’ starts with a little strumming and interestingly sweet vocals as you’d expect… then the drumming starts. And the rhythm gets a little feverish. Then the strings come in. Vocals are getting stronger and you find that you’re not just tapping to it, but you’re kind of stomping!

‘Go On’ seems like the greatest way to start this record. It gets you excited, breaks any notion of what you might be expecting, and then lets the rest of the record unfold. From there, you really notice the contrast in each song – some more complicated and large, some so simple and delicate. ‘Sugar and Spice’ politely scales things back a little, only to break away with another dense and feverishly urgent run with ‘Gold Rush’. Each song shows Basia’s diversity, yet they all weave together for wonderfully cohesive album.

There’s a few great videos available to listen on Basia’s website – my favorite being the ‘Heart of My Own’ performance. Have a listen, see what you think, and if you’re really liking it as much as I am, maybe you’d like a chance for some giveaway loot?

Thanks to a fine friend, the Art Counsel, I’ve got some goodies to give away. One lucky reader will win a copy of Basia’s recent album on vinyl, and one lucky LOCAL winner will get 2 passes to see her upcoming show at The Woods on June 2nd. (Where I bet she’ll be playing this new song.)

Just leave a comment below to say hello, or tell me about your latest favorite record, or whatever… and I’ll draw a winner for the record. As for the tickets – indicate whether you’re available to attend the show in your comment, and I’ll choose the winner from those. I’ll announce the winners one week from today, on Monday, May 30. Good luck!


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41 Responses to “Basia Bulat Review and Giveaway”

  1. Bruce says:

    I always enjoy exploring new music and will definitely check out Basia Bulat! Thanks for the tip.
    I’ve most recently been enjoying some old blues like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Furry Lewis, Bukka White, Roscoe Holcomb and others.
    Thanks for the giveaway and good luck everyone!

  2. Brian says:

    This album sounds very interesting! I picked up the Middle East vinyl after you reviewed it and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Currently, I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan’s Live From Brandeis University 1963. It’s one of those “recently found, once lost tape recordings”. The new Fleet Foxes record has been a refreshing follow up to their last and if you haven’t heard Dharohar Project by Mumford & Sons I would absolutely recommend that!
    Looking forward to more project updates and album reviews,

  3. Dulcie says:

    I found out about Basia through NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. If you haven’t see that performance yet you should check it out :) Ever since then she’s been one of my favorites to listen to while working in my ceramics studio.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I really like your music giveaways! I’ve found some of my favorite bands via blogs.

    Right now I’m listening to I Am Oak’s album “On Claws” and Okkervil River’s new album “I Am Very Far”

  5. david reno says:

    i’m from brasil, can i enter for the album? :)

  6. katbernie says:

    i saw basia perform at central park last summer, and she was wonderful! what a great vocalist and musician :)

  7. Christy says:

    Hey Matt! If your looking for music recommendations you never go wrong with a little Nina Simone.

  8. Shawn says:

    My favourite record of hers is “Oh My Darling” which was released before this one. Both are great though. Can’t wait for more from her!

  9. Ania says:

    I finally saw Basia live a couple of months ago. She was so entertaining! She sounds amazing live, I would have never imaged that it could be so much better live! I live in Canada and cannot attend the show.

  10. Matt EH says:

    I just recently got the new Airborne Toxic Event album and it is really good definitely recommend everyone get that one on vinyl. Also ordered a CD of Brett Shady who is a little known folk singer. I wouldn’t be able attend the show, my buddy is getting married that weekend! Nice write up by the way! Good luck all on the contest! Hit me up on twitter @matt_eh

  11. Koan says:

    That voice is just gut wrenching (in the best possible way). Phew!

    After seeing him on his latest Denver stop a few weeks back, I’ve been revisiting Joe Pug’s music. He’s simple and without taking an attentive listen, it’d be easy to write him off as just another singer-songwriter. But a closer listen reveals deep, dark and beautifully crafted lyrics. A closer listen reveals subtle guitar genius. A closer listen reveals that there can be immense beauty is simplicity.

  12. Darren says:

    I got the chance to see Basia live with orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario last year! It was fantastic. I couldn’t make it to the show in Portland, but I’m sure it will be amazing! She’s coming here to Kitchener-Waterloo in September to play another couple shows with orchestra! I’m stoked.

  13. I have a weakness for some good folk music, especially as it plays on vinyl.

    Basia Bulat plays with purity and harmony, I love nothing more than to sit/stand/dance at a live show and feel the energy of the musician running through me as if I were the artist on stage. She has a beautiful way of calming in her lyrics.

    I am LOCAL and would love nothing more than to see her live. Fingers crossed!

  14. Peter says:

    I have been a fan of Basia for some time now. I first travelled to Leeds to see her but she had to cancel that night due to being unwell. However I made the 600 miles round trip to see her at the Lexington in London. I subsequently saw her at The Tan Hill Festival. Unfortunately The Woods is too far to travel but I would like the chance of winning the vinyl. Wonderful singer/songwriter with a tremendous voice. Recently I have been listening to Matt Bauer.

  15. Abram says:

    Just watched the video and it sounds really good! Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the show… I’m also looking forward to seeing the belts reappear in your online shop. Take care!

  16. Yashwina says:

    Every music post of yours has turned out to be pure gold. Thanks for doing the giveaways, and consider me entered.
    PS- really, really looking forward to the return of the belts! i was so sad that i missed them the first time around. can’t wait to get one myself!

  17. Urban Weeds says:

    Can I pass up a chance at an amazing new album or tickets to a show? No way!

  18. Matthew Bullis says:

    Sounds great. She’s part of the next generation of autoharp players, making the autoharp look cool for those our age. I’m in Phoenix, so can’t attend, but have a huge record collection.

  19. Alan says:

    Another fantastic music recommendation. Count me in for the show!

    Right now, David Bazan’s brand new album “Strange Negotiations” is spending quite a bit of time in the cabinet. If you’re at all a fan of his, I would recommend it.

  20. Trevor says:

    Great blog. When I first came across it I think I spend an hour read through all your old posts.
    Thanks for the great music recommendation, keep up the great work.

  21. Sean says:

    Thanks for the tip, Matt. I’ll have to give it a listen. I too took your last recommendation of Middle East and wasnt disappointed. While I cant attend the concert, I sure would love a copy of the record. I have a fairly sizable record collection, but the belt broke on my turntable a while back and the immediacy of digital track has kept me from fixing it, perhaps this could be the kick in the pants I need.

    As for my own music recommendations, I recently got a copy of Ray Charles’ Music+Soul=Jazz, a wonderful, primarily instrumental album of 50s era jazz produced by none other than Quincy Jones. Also was granted an early listen of the new Bon Iver which doesnt disappoint.

    Thanks for all the hard work on the blog, I always look forward to a new post.

  22. Hilary says:

    Well, I’m currently not listening to folk, but I’d say right now, my favorite (and what I am listening to) is Hugh Laurie’s “Let Them Talk.” He cracks me up, all his projects and talents.

  23. dawn says:

    What a great post about one of my favourite albums.
    I’m going to follow you on Twitter for sure.
    I’d love the vinyl but, alas, am not local for the tickets.

  24. Amanda says:

    Oooh I SO wish I was local but, sadly, I’m not. But I would LOVE to win this record! I mean LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! So my fingers are crossed and if you haven’t already you should check out Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi’s new album, Rome. You can learn more about it here on NPR but def check out the record. It’s very very chill and I suggest being on a porch on a warm summer night with a bottle of wine while listening… let your thoughts roam (no pun intended)! And take some time to listen, really listen to individual sounds making this album happen. It also helps if you like spaghetti westerns…. :)

  25. Hayley says:

    The record sounds sublime! I love all kinds of folk music, as does my 3 year old daughter. Right now she is loving The Seekers and Carter Family. I think this album could become a new favorite.


  26. thisismycat says:

    That album would be nice, my wife is a bigger fan of Basia Bulat than me, though.
    Also, here’s a tips of something I bet you could copy and try something similar yourself. It’s a chair, and if I would have any carpentry skills I would definetly try it myself – but I’m hopeless at everything practical besides electronics. Anyways, check this beautiful chair out here:

    • MMP says:

      I’ve always wanted to make a leather sling chair, and damn – if that’s not a supremely elegant example!

  27. I’m a big fan of vinyl. My recent favorite is the new Fleet Foxes “Helpness Blues.” Also check out The Middle East.

    I live in Seattle, but I’d come down for the June 2nd show. My birthday is the 3rd. It’d be a great trip.

  28. lena says:

    Look forward to checking out Basia.

    Love vinyl. It’s one of the things I worry about in case of a fire; a few hundred pounds can’t be swept up and ran out with hastily.

    And this is what the world is coming to:

  29. Chris says:

    Love your website and liking Baia Bulat. Hope she comes out with more cool stuff like this!

  30. Emerald Son says:

    To be perfectly honest I’m new to this kind of music Matt. I trust your design taste, now I will give your music a try. Thanks for the giveaway, your too kind.

  31. Erica says:

    I saw Basia a few years back in Montreal, and she was a delight. Thanks for offering this giveaway!

  32. Harry says:

    Basia Bulat is a great musician and even more importantly when she plays she seems to be genuinely enjoying performing. It’s great when a musician has as much energy as her.
    Thanks for the giveaway and good luck to all.

  33. Jason says:

    David Bazan’s new album Strange Negotiations just came in the mail. Raw but sonically sound. Great record. (not local)

  34. Stevie K says:


  35. Mei says:

    The Civil Wars’ album is still on my player after so many weeks. Timeless Americana.
    (not local)

  36. Danny says:

    Basia is my favorite songwriter she puts so much into melody and never loses a drop of emotion. Im so far away from where she plays but man do i love her music. I really would love to win that album.

    • MMP says:

      Hey Danny, thanks for your note, but sorry to say the contest closed on the 30th. Hope you’ll try for our next one.

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