In the unlikely settings of Headrow House, a former textile mill located in one of Leeds city centre’s historic yards and now a Beer Hall, restaurants and music venue, Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat was performing on one of the old workshop floors, showcasing songs from her new album, Good Advice.
When Bulat got on stage, complete with a short, silvery cape which looked like the sort of thing Rick Wakeman used to wear when performing with Yes, she immediately launches into songs from Good Advice. ‘Let Me In’, ‘Long Goodbye’ and ‘La La Lie’, with its catchy chorus, are bouncy and energetic tunes which get the audience in the mood for what is to come. Things slow down with ‘Time’ and ‘Heart of my Own’, in which Bulat showcases her multi-instrumentalist skills which includes playing the guitar and autoharp, which is put to beautiful effect on ‘Five, Four’.
After the haunting mid-show songs, Bulat goes back into more heavy-hitting numbers such as ‘Gold Rush’ more pop-orientated and lively songs such as ‘Good Advice’, ‘Wires’ and ‘Someday Soon’. Some of her recent songs are more reminiscent of the late Kirsty MacColl’s work and Bulat has a similar voice to hers as well. Her voice and increasingly popular direction indicates a breezy and growing confidence. In terms of stage presence, Bulat can play the keyboards with pizzazz and even comes off the stage into the audience and does an impromptu can-can with yours truly. Bulat was backed by Canadian folk trio The Weather Station, who also opened proceedings with an accomplished set of atmospheric folk songs.
It is a testament to a performer who can switch from playing acoustic, emotional and haunting folk songs, to more fun, pop-orientated tunes which can get an audience moving. Kirsty MacColl could do it and Bulat can to.
Bulat’s latest single ‘Long Goodbye’ is available now: