Skip to main content

Basia Bulat: Five Essential Albums

Basia Bulat, who plays Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, compiled her 'Five Essential Albums' for FUV.

Basia Bulat, who plays Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, compiled her 'Five Essential Albums' for FUV.


Ravaged heartbreak meets willful resilience on Basia Bulat's third album,Tall Tall Shadow, a strong collection of songs that pushes Bulat beyond folk perimeters towards indie pop — without forsaking her music's acoustic roots.

Produced by Bulat, Arcade Fire's Tim Kingsbury and Mark Lawson, who helmed Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, Tall Tall Shadow marks a sonic transition for the Toronto-based singer-songwriter. She is touring North America with a full band and has a gig at New York's Bowery Ballroom this Saturday, November 23 (and tickets were still available as of Thursday afternoon).

Intrigued by her many influences, some of which are subtly apparent throughout Tall Tall Shadow, WFUV and The Alternate Side asked Basia Bulat — who did a session for TAS in 2010 — to tell us about her Five Essential Albums.

Basia Bulat's Five Essential Albums:

Belle and SebastianThe Boy with the Arab Strap
My friend Alex gave me this album for my birthday when we were in our first year of high school, and I credit her and this album for getting me interested in new music. I really fell in love with this band and their entire catalog, but I hold this album closest because of the personal connection I have to it to this day. Every song on here feels like a classic.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Illuminations
This album is so inspiring - it’s extremely brave and takes so many risks and sounds like nothing else to me before it! A spacey, trippy, out-of-this-world-beauty that happens to begin with one of my favourite Leonard Cohen covers.

Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club
I really feel like this is the live album to top all other live albums. I listen to it all the time and think I might have every moment in it – every cymbal crash, every time Sam goes ‘ha ha’, memorized by heart.

Fairport Convention, Liege and Lief
An album I always go to in the wintertime, for some reason. I think it might be because of the warmth in Sandy Denny’s voice as she’s spinning stories around me. A lot of people consider this the classic ‘British Folk-Rock’ album and I think Sandy’s influence has a lot to do with that. This is the album that introduced me to her beautiful voice and led to me to the rest of her incredible work.

Owen Pallett, Heartland
I think Owen is Canada’s best contemporary composer and one of my generation’s best songwriters. I love this album and don’t even know how to describe it to people except that it’s brainy and beautiful and his voice sounds like he’s singing to you from a dream.