The headline to a recent piece on veryshortlist.com about Canadian singer Basia Bulat screams: "Play this album before Steve Jobs puts it in an iPod ad!" And, frankly, that pretty much sums up the likely trajectory of Bulat, a charming, autoharp-strumming pop-folkie whose throaty voice recalls old-school heavyweights like Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant.
Producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and British Sea Power) helmed her alternately cute, passionate and rousing full-length debut, Oh, My Darling, and it's easy to see why. She has the songs, and, more important, she has the ability to inject a ray of sunshine into her performances without coming across as a shiny, happy mountebank. You definitely get the sense that it's the real Bulat who occupies her self-penned tunes. Polished songs like the bright, tripping "Into the Night" and the more wistful "Snakes and Ladders" already have the U.K. and much of the Continent enthralled. And her artfully disheveled flaxen locks and full, girlish face only add to her budding star power. For that matter, so does her lulling - and well-circulated - indie-folk cover of the Strokes' "Someday."
Bulat and her excellent touring band are playing a round of midsize clubs like the High Noon Saloon to promote the U.S. release of Oh, My Darling, which just hit these shores on Feb. 5. (Madison is the second gig on her current U.S. swing.) But you have to wonder how long it will be before strong word of mouth and a raft of ecstatic reviews for the CD will push her into much larger rooms. Like fellow Canadian Leslie Feist, Bulat seems destined to transcend the indie scene and succeed in a big way - even without the help of Steve Jobs.