A year after its release, the artist is still touring and performing the songs from her Polaris-shortlisted, Juno-nominated and critically acclaimed fourth album.
The first few minutes of the conversation with Basia Bulat aren’t even about her.
But they are very much about her.
Or rather they very much speak to what kind of person, what kind of artist she is — open, generous, real, uncalculated, genuine, natural and just, well, so damn nice.
On this particular day, all she wants to do is heap praise upon fellow Canuck chanteuse and former Calgary girl Feist and her latest album Pleasure.
After what seems like days, it’s pointed out that the interview isn’t about Feist, it’s supposed to be about Bulat.
“No, I want to talk about her record,” she says with a laugh. “It’s so good. It just came out it. It’s so good. I’ve been listening all morning …
“I really love Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and it kind of reminds me of that. It’s really beautiful. It’s awesome.”
And even after this, it’s still several more minutes until we get back to Bulat, herself. More specifically back to Bulat and the success she’s had thanks to her gorgeous, folk-informed album Good Advice.
The record, which was released over a year ago now, continued her ascension in this country’s contemporary pop scene, earning her a spot on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist as well as a nomination for Adult Alternative Album at the 2017 Junos.
It’s also kept her consistently on the road, with her stunning stage presence, shimmering songs and aching vocals being required across the globe, including this weekend in Bragg Creek for a sold-out Saturday night concert, before she heads overseas for dates in Germany and the U.K., before once more heading back this way for a Calgary Folk Music Festival appearance in July.
“It’s been a crazy year,” the T.O. performer says simply.
“It’s fun. It’s weird. It feels like it came out forever ago and I told myself I was going to take a break this year, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, no, we still have a lot of really cool shows.’ … It’s kind of awesome, it’s a train that keeps going.”
Again, it’s not hard to understand why the train that is Good Advice keeps sending Bulat from station to station.
It’s one of those albums that defies categorization, sells itself merely on her skills as a songwriter, the candour in which she puts her broken, beating heart out there, the way she makes you feel her, often feel for her, but always think you’re getting an honest window into that heart, her soul.
“It is still art,” she says. “It’s definitely not a diary, it’s definitely still a record, but I guess I don’t really know how to be any other way. I’ve always been a little torch singer through and through, I guess.”
Helping make those songs burn brighter was the recording process, itself, which saw Bulat head to Kentucky to work with My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James and a crew of musicians.
Bulat had met James years ago backstage at Austin City Limits and given him a copy of her 2010 Heart of My Own album, the two then staying in touch, becoming friends, the Canadian artist eventually the opener for some of James’s solo dates
Bulat still says of working with the producer and the others on Good Advice that it “felt like it was supposed to be.”
“It’s really a family down there that I felt immediately a part of … They provided this amazing support network musically and emotionally, everything, to make something really special. We all kind of were in it together.”
As to whether or not she’d do it again in the future, Bulat doesn’t pause for a moment.
“Oh yeah. For sure. But who knows? It would be great if he has time.
“I’m sure we will do something together again some day, some time.”
She laughs. “Maybe I’ll produce his next record.”
That wouldn’t be entirely out of the question, as Bulat admits this past year has also seen hear “wear a lot of different hats” — it hasn’t been entirely about Good Advice.
She’s also been involved with some “cool collaborations,” including recording a song with “national treasure” Fred Penner for his new album Hear the Music, that paired the children’s performer with other artists including Ron Sexsmith, Bahamas and Alex Cuba.
She’s also a member of Sam Patch, the side-band of Tim Kingsbury from Arcade Fire, which released a new album and embarked on a tour, and Bulat has also added keyboards and vocals to a new project called Napster Vertigo.
As for her own work and a possible followup to Good Advice, the singer admits that’s an ongoing process, her recent tour of Newfoundland and Labrador — her first in the region — providing her with the proper stimuli for creating.
“In between (shows) I had a lot of mountains and icebergs and snow. And it creates a good setting for writing,” she says.
“I’m hoping to do a lot more of that this year and just not put too much pressure on myself, see what happens. I have a lot of ideas and I don’t want to squash them too quickly, I want to let them grow.”
She continues, admitting that even though Good Advice is still working its magic she’s not going to obsess over why that is and try to recreate it.
“I’ve been very lucky that every record betters me, has surprised me and done different things, and taken me to different places. I don’t spend too much time thinking about the other side of it, because I’m already thinking about the next thing or just trying to get into the right space to work on new stuff.
“So I don’t know. For me I just keep doing what I do and whatever happens with it — you know?”
Basic Bulat performs Saturday at the Bragg Creek Community Centre. The show is now sold out. She’ll also perform at this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival, which runs July 27 to 30 at Prince’s Island Park. For tickets and information please click here.