On Saturday night, Basia Bulat defrosted the frigid crowd at the Doug Fir with her gorgeous brand of folk rock. Those who may not have been familiar with the Canadian singer were blown away by the raw energy she emits with her alto voice and signature autoharp. Those who have followed her career were treated to outstanding renditions of songs from earlier albums, as well as the title song from the new release “Tall Tall Shadow”.
Basia is a study in vocal control, usually moving from gentle to angelic to powerful. This was displayed early in her set, as she and her band wowed the audience with stirring versions of “Gold Rush” and “Heart of My Own”. The energy in the room was palpable as she sang the rare extended version of “Before I Knew” only accompanied by her autoharp. The extra lyrics were a nice gift to us before she departed, and hopefully she will return to PDX soon.
While we have definitely heard the string heavy sound before (especially locally) Basia Bulat does not deserve to be lumped in with the sometimes sleepy genre of modern folk. If anything, she could be compared to the singer/songwriters of the seventies. Her emotive lyrics on love are reminiscent of Carole King and Joni Mitchell, but her voice is much brighter. Basia has already made a name for herself north of the border and in Europe, and it’s only a matter of time before the word on her gets out on an even larger scale.
Words by Scott McHale