Following her 2007 debut, Oh, My Darling, Basia Bulat’s gospel-folk reputation precedes her, but Bulat decimates any idea of a sophomore slump with a swift strum of her autoharp on Heart of My Own. Replete with the warbling vocals that we’ve come to know, Bulat builds on Oh, My Darling’s hopeful hollowness by burrowing deeper into the recesses of old-country sound and isolation — isolation that came while on a year-long tour for Oh, My Darling, specifically by a few reflective days spent in the mountains of the Yukon.
Undoubtedly inspired by Bulat’s stay in Dawson City, the site of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896, single “Gold Rush” begins with foreboding strings but quickly morphs into a rushing, Balkan-tinged track for which she did a DUMBO Session. “The Shore” mixes sparse, plucking instrumentals with the capacious nature of her voice and blends in to “Once More for the Dollhouse,” where Bulat asks simply, “Will we ever paint the walls?” The circular, music box–like hypnotics of “If it Rains” is washed away by the hollowness of the closing a capella track, “Hush.”
At once childlike and wise, Heart of My Own is laden with a twinkly essence and a musing outlook. Escalating strings, jingling bells, mournful horns, rolling percussion, and finger plucking seep from the tracks, with Bulat herself on autoharp, guitar, piano, organ, pianoette, banjo, ukelele, and bass. Heart of My Own sounds more produced than Oh, My Darling, but not for lack of quality. Despite the yearning lyrical plotlines, the warmth exuded from the woodsy harmony of Bulat’s voice mingling with the amalgamation of guest instruments cozies even the bitterest of winter days.