Canadian folk musician Basia Bulat’s sophomore album, Heart of My Own, was a jubilant folk and roots record with a sound reminiscent of celtic highlands — an album inspired by the singer’s experiences in the Yukon. Her latest album, Tall Tall Shadow, strikes a different note that is a little sadder.
“I’ve always written about things that were important to me,” Bulat says. “But I think this album just ended up being really personal, I think, because the stories were kind of happening in real time as I was writing it all down.”
However, Tall Tall Shadow also hits a more playful note than the previous album, in large part due to the addition of a new instrument to Bulat’s repertoire: a charango, which she fell in love with after being introduced to it during her residency at the Banff Centre.
“I met an amazing charango player from Peru,” Bulat says. “The Banff Centre is so awesome. They bring people from all around the world to meet each other, collaborate and get to know each other. You learn so much even in the short time you’re there.”
She says she fell in love with the instrument’s range, which is capable of producing a number of different sounds. It was an unexpected change in direction for Bulat and the album.
“A lot of the time the most exciting things happen by chance,” Bulat says, “when you’re not looking for something and think you can plan for everything in life. But it just doesn’t work that way.”
Tall Tall Shadow did not turn out as Bulat had originally planned. She discarded her first group of songs after finishing them and starting again.
“I wrote a whole other record basically,” Bulat says. “I think that was the right thing to do. I needed to write from a place that felt honest. Not that it wasn’t doing something honest but it just didn’t feel right anymore once I had those songs ready to go. I think it’s what I needed to do.”
The album was co-produced by Tim Kingsbury from Arcade Fire and Mark Lawson, close friends of Bulat — Bulat worked with Kingsbury on her last album, Heart of My Own.
“I think of them as family now,” Bulat says. “I feel really lucky that I got to work with him and Mark. They’re both awesome people to work with.”
Bulat is playing in Calgary Nov. 29 at Festival Hall along with Evening Hymns. Visit the website for tickets.