Track by Track: Basia Bulat, Tall Tall Shadow


Photograph Caroline Desilet

The Canadian singer-songwriter takes us through her new album, which signifies a departure from her traditional folk sound…

Tall Tall Shadow is the third album by Canadian Basia Bulat, whose debut 2007 record Oh My Darling singled her out as one of indie music’s fastest rising stars. Co-produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Mark Lawson, and Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury, the album marks a stylistic departure for Bulat. Inspired by an emotive exploration of loss and joy, the album sees Bulat move from her trademark autoharp and folk styling towards a more electronic, piano based sound.

Ahead of the album’s release on 30 September, listen as the singer-songwriter takes us through the album track by track.

1. Tall tall shadow
I’ve always had a soft spot for albums that start with the title track, so the little music nerd in me was excited about starting an album that way. Recording this song was really fun because most of it was done pretty ‘live’ in the studio, which is my favourite way to record a song.

2. Five, Four
This was also recorded pretty ‘live’, but in this case it wasn’t in a studio but a big Canadian legion dance hall, which gave the band a lot of space to play facing each other in a circle… I think one of my favourite memories from making this album comes from recording this song and getting the mood and atmosphere of it right – just enough to keep it simmering without giving it all away…

3. Promise not to think about Love
I’ve always wanted to write a song that was easy to dance to, and this is probably the closest I’ve come to reaching that goal.

4. It Can’t Be You
After trying multiple versions of this song both solo and with a band, Mark (Lawson) and I took a half hour together in the studio to play and record the song three times in a row, just charango and voice – we knew the second take was ‘the one’ but we did a third one just in case.

5. Wires
This song was my first foray into electric and electronic sounds; I think this is where I realised there’s no turning back!

6. The City with no Rivers
The idea for this song initially came from a true story in my family’s history, and then I ran with the idea of a city without rivers, something growing and living out of the desert against all odds. I love that the image and idea of that city works as a metaphor in many ways.

7. Someone
My first song featuring a drum machine, but hopefully not the last.

8. Paris or Amsterdam
Another song that there were many versions of, I’m very happy I arrived at the one that made it on the album.

9. Never Let Me Go
Even though it’s not the title track, somehow I feel like this song could speak for all the other songs on the album if it wanted to.

10. From Now On
I always think that maybe my favourite vocal takes happen whenever Tim is in the room, as though he’s some kind of good luck charm. Recording this song was another example that I keep in my pocket to remind myself that it’s probably true.

Download title track ‘Tall Tall Shadow’. For more details on the album’s release, click here