Home Read Albums Of The Week: Basia Bulat | The Garden

Albums Of The Week: Basia Bulat | The Garden

The singer-songwriter converts some of her classics into orchestral versions.

409

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Basia Bulat’s The Garden is a new album that reimagines songs across her five studio albums with stunning classical string quartet arrangements by Owen Pallett, Paul Frith and Zou Zou Robidoux.

While she has been known to play live with small chamber ensembles and full orchestras — including the Ottawa National Arts Centre Orchestra and Symphony Nova ScotiaThe Garden marks Bulat’s first recording to capture this spellbinding configuration, which further showcases her singular voice and timeless songwriting. Across the 16 songs, produced by herself and Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Beirut), she revisits and gives new life to beloved originals alongside a handpicked group of string players, as well as bandmates Andrew Woods and Ben Whiteley on guitar and bass, respectively.

“This past year, I let myself slow down, dig in the dirt, take root, and look at what memories and melodies came springing back to me in the garden after many years on the road. When I wrote The Garden (in 2016), I was in a distorted state of mind, and it took my hand and calmed me. ‘We won’t look back, and if we don’t, we won’t be lost.’ It told me to breathe into the present moment and look toward the future, and during this past year of stillness and reflection, it reminded me to do that again, like a meditation,” explains Bulat.

Photo by Richmond Lam.

“Gardens evolve and change and are always growing. In my garden, the plants return, some pruned back, some overgrown, but they are never exactly the same as the year before. Owen’s arrangement for this song details all the blossoms and thorns blowing about together in the wind — new shoots and old shapes making themselves known to each other in magical ways. I feel so very fortunate to bring this song to another season in bloom.”

For Bulat, The Garden was a chance to record anew select songs whose meanings have shifted from when she originally composed them. Distance teaches, and reveals: “I sing the songs differently now,” she says. “It’s the gift of time.” While creating The Garden, Bulat had just found out she was expecting her first child, which she revealed to her collaborators in the midst of recording, down a wire from the vocal booth. A song can change shape, turning new leaves and growing new blooms, in life’s unexpected seasons.”