Bossy Spotlight: Dame Margaret Shouts About Basia Bulat & Other Canadian Favs

This is the only gif of Basia I could find but ALSO completely adorable SO?

Basia Bulat is one of my very favorite, too-little-known Canadian musicians. As it turns out, I have a lot of these, as I have devoted MANY hours to: (1) listening to CBC’s Radio 3, (2) buying albums for $4.44 CAD in the Canadian-only music site Zunior’s annual Boxing Day Sale, and, best of all, (3) tracking the long and shortlist of nominees for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize — an annual award acknowledging musical excellence for which there is no submission process, meaning every Canadian artist has an equal opportunity to receive it, and one where anyone with a financial relationship to the music or its creators if barred from voting. CANADA! They know how to boost their homegrown musicians!

In 2016, Basia scored her THIRD shortlisting for the Polaris Prize with her album Good Advice (an honor she received alongside CHERISHED #Damesfav Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion and eight other GREAT albums), which is not just whistling Dixie! Or whistling… Yukon, as might be more apt. She is even Canadian Famous enough that one of her songs was used to score a Hockey Night opening montage in 2013. But she is TRAGICALLY not yet American Famous and I, for one, would like to change that immediately. Basia would like to change it, too, as Good Advice is arguably her most broadly appealing album to date: a shimmery wall-of-sound pop confection that completes Basia’s reverse Carol King routine, taking her from the earnest singer-songwriter folk of“Heart of My Own” to one woman girl group songs like “Fool” — complete with the sequined stagewear to match. All of her four albums (Oh My Darling [2007], A Heart of My Own  [2010],Tall Tall Shadow  [2013], and Good Advice  [2016]) are worth your time, but the real treat is getting to see her live. She will be touring in the U.S. this spring to support her forthcoming fourth album, but! If you’re too impatient to wait for that, thanks to The Internet, you can watch her stun at NPR’s Tiny Desk (where she opens with “The Shore,” one of her most devastatingly lovely songs), and perform a full set at Tornoto’s Massey Hall.

While we are shouting about Basia, I am going to self-indulgently mention three other Canadian Musicians Too Few Other People Love:

  • Kathryn Calder! One member of comparatively well-known Canadian supergroup, The New Pornographers, Kathryn’s solo music is EXCEPTIONAL and — say it with me now — TOO LITTLE KNOWN IN THE U.S. She has the emotional directness and arresting vocals of Neko Case, with more of the sonic flourishes and weirdness you’d associate with The New Pornographers or her long-lost uncle,A.C. Newman. Album to try: Bright and Vivid. Song to try: “Turn a Light On.”

  • Amy Millan! ALSO a solo artist better-known for her work as ½ of synth pop duet gods Starsand with other Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene, Amy Millan’s two solo albums flew under the radar because their sound is that of alt-country/folk where her other work is indie rock/pop. But her second, Masters of the Burialmiiiiiiight just be perfect? So. Album to try: Masters of the Burial. Song to try: “Baby I.”

  • The Weather Station! The Weather Station is one of those confusing bands that is basically just one person — singer and songwriter Tamara Lindeman — despite having a collective name that implies many members. Lindeman makes whispery folk music that hits me squarely in the solar plexus. Reminiscent of both Canadian Demigoddess Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, she makes music that is sneakily mesmerizing and somehow quite devastating. Album to try: Loyalty. Song to try: “East.”