Album Review: Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow

By: Hilary Johnston October 11, 2013

Basia Bulat’s third record, Tall Tall Shadow, had big big shoes to fill after the release of her gems Oh, My Darling and Heart of My Own in 2007 and 2010 respectively. She gathered the big guns to produce this record – Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury and The Suburbs producer Mark Lawson – ultimately breathing new life into her old soul. 
Bulat’s chops have never been more obvious – delving into complex time signatures and bright melodies. “Promise Not to Think About Love” features happy percussive handclaps in contrast with heartbreak-laden lyrics, the nod at the ’60s girl group aesthetic balanced out by some of the more tender moments of the record. “It Can’t Be You” beautifully pairs Basia’s trembling vibrato with the pretty chirp of a plucked charango (a small stringed instrument in the lute family) while “Paris or Amsterdam” comes across as perfectly simplistic. At times distracting from the rustic bones of her songs, Bulat’s addition of electronic parts, particularly synth lines and the odd growling guitar, distance Tall Tall Shadow from the gentle strength of her earlier work. In the case of “The Wire,” for instance, I think less would have been more.
Tall Tall Shadow is perhaps Bulat’s most full-realized work and is likely to capture the ears of the unfamiliar while satisfying her veteran fans. She somehow managed to boldly step forward while remaining in her shadowy comfort zone.
Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow
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