Basia Bulat, the Juno award winning folk singer, performed at The Playhouse for the first time on Saturday, Feb. 3.
Many New Brunswickers discovered her last year at the Shivering Songs festival; thus, a great deal of anticipation was built up around her Playhouse debut.
The concert was divided into three parts, allowing Bulat to entertain the audience with both solo acoustic songs and a band’s accompaniment. It was my first time seeing an artist play an autoharp—and I was so glad that is was Bulat because she makes it look effortless despite sounding incredibly mellifluous.
During the show’s first half, she also performed songs from her albums Heart of my Own and Tall Tall Shadow, released in 2010 and 2013 respectively. As she transitioned between songs, she relayed the stories of how and why some tracks were written—which only made them more soulful, relatable and memorable.
“This song is about a place that is really cold,” Bulat said when she was getting ready to play “Heart of my Own.” She also added that she wrote this song when she really wanted to go to the Yukon.
The third song for the night, “Run,” turned out to be one of my favourites. This song had me convinced that the minute I got back home, I was going to add a Basia Bulat playlist to my Youtube account. There is a soothing quality about the autoharp in this song, and the verses are very catchy.
Bulat took over the classical guitar for the song “Go On,” and added, “I can have a bad temper and this is one of the songs I wrote in a situation when I was angry.”
By the time Bulat was into her last song prior to the intermission, I was amazed by the amount of instruments she has mastered.
She sang “It Can’t Be You” while playing the charango, which she uses in a very unique way.
I was in complete awe of a yodeling section she did with her chin rested on the instrument’s hollow curve, as it somehow felt like her voice was reflected by the strings.
Bulat’s solo performances had a very heartwarming feeling, and when she performed with the band, more power and energy were added to the atmosphere. I enjoyed the equal distribution of vocal and instrumental parts within the songs, as they allowed the audience to enjoy every band member’s contribution to the pieces.
The saxophone/organ player made a particularly significant impact at the concert. During the song “Good Advice,” all viewers were very entertained by the short, saxophone-driven portion.
After the intermission, the audience lauded the artists with a few-minutes-long standing ovation, until Bulat came back to perform a few solo songs.
Bulat once again impressed viewers by finishing off the show with “The Shore” and playing a 100-year-old lap harp.
She has a preternatural talent when it comes to playing uncommon instruments. Throughout the show, Bulat revealed her mastery of five instruments and spectacular control over her voice. She is a captivating solo performer and an equally vibrant artist when joined by her band members.
If you do not know Basia Bulat yet, you are missing out on really good music—as I did for so many years. I would definitely recommend going to her live performance and watching the musical magic in person.