It’s clear from the opening track of Heart of My Own, the follow-up to her Polaris-nominated debut Oh My Darling, that Basia Bulat isn’t content with her previous success – she’s trying to soar to new heights.
As a singer whose music too often gets the “sweet” label (which it undoubtedly is), it’s refreshing to hear her really going for it. Bulat doesn’t hold back on songs like “Go On” and “Gold Rush,” filling them with big strings and thundering percussion. The idea that she isn’t afraid to write a title track that’s as moving as it is haunting is a testament to her confidence as a songwriter.
As powerful as some of the songs are, Bulat handles the gentle just as well, managing to break a few hearts with her voice on “Sugar and Spice” and calmly closing the album with “If It Rains.” Album highlight “Run” sits somewhere between the grand and the quiet, successfully combining the best elements of both to form Bulat’s catchiest song to date. Don’t be surprised to see some of these songs in an upcoming episode of Grey’s Anatomy (though that may just be wishful thinking).
There are some missteps, however. “If Only You” is a little too country for its own good and doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the songs, while the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. Those expecting a revolutionary folk album should also look elsewhere; as great as the songs are, there’s not much here that falls outside the folk idiom.
Though it may not be the most original release, Heart of My Own is far from a sophomore slump.