Basia Bulat: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Canadian songbird Basia Bulat is back with her fourth album, Good Advice. Captured and produced by My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James in Louisville, Kentucky, it follows 2013’s highly-acclaimed Tall Tall Shadow and two years of touring with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Lanois and Destroyer.

Bulat and James first met at Austin City Limits, and became friends while touring together in 2013. When it came time to record her new album, Bulat was determined to continue the experiment that began with Tall Tall Shadow – challenging her creative process, experimenting with different sounds. Despite a shared love for classic gospel, soul and country, Bulat and James resolved not to make a throwback record, instead transforming her slow acoustic demos into swift and bright pop songs.

In their review of Good Advice, Pop Matters wrote, ‘Bulat positions herself gracefully as a singer with more than one dimension, one that knows that being serious, sad, and joyful can happen in the same body simultaneously.” In a similarly glowing take, The Guardian said she sings “with the sorrowful stoicism of a classic country crooner – rhinestone-encrusted melodrama and misery cascade around her, synthesised gospel colliding with the stately majesty of Grizzly Bear or Beach House.’

We invited Basia Bulat to share with us five albums that changed her life.

* * *

Leonard Cohen:
New Skin for the Old Ceremony

I was in high school when one of my best friends introduced me to Leonard Cohen’s music, and since then it has always felt tied to my teen years and the kinds of friendships you make in that formative time. It’s still one of my favorite albums, and had an influence on how I sing and how I feel about singing – that there’s always got to be some kind of truth to be found in the song.


Cat Power:
You Are Free

There was a year where I listened almost exclusively to Cat Power. This album and The Greatest are two that will always be in my heart. I admire both her power and her vulnerability as a writer – the way she can express both in a single line made me want to write songs at a time when I didn’t think anyone would ever hear them.

Sam Cooke:
One Night Stand – Live at Harlem Square Club, 1963

I can remember so vividly the first time I heard the intro to “Bring it on Home to Me” on this album, and being floored by it. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful things ever recorded to tape. I always think about this album when I’m getting ready to go on tour – the energy in the room shakes you from the speakers so many years after it was recorded.

Belle and Sebastian:
The Boy with the Arab Strap

I love the storytelling on this album and the way the darkest lyrics are paired with the sweetest melodies. I connected to it so strongly the first time I heard it, and perhaps another reason why the record changed my life is because of how much I connected to the live show the first time I saw them…and every time I’ve seen them since. I think I’ve seen Belle and Sebastian in concert more than any other band!

Jim James:
Regions of Light and Sound of God

This is one of my favorite records of the past decade! I find myself putting in on in all kinds of situations…and it’s one of the reasons why I wanted Jim to produce my record. The ideas, both philosophical and musical, really resonated with me, and still do every time I listen to it. It feels like both an invitation and a mystery.

Bjørn Hammershaug
Originally published on, February 2016

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