Published Mar 25, 2020The cover for Are You in Love? is a painting of Basia Bulat by Toronto-based artist Kris Knight. It depicts Bulat basking in the sun with her eyes closed, completely absorbed in the present.
The image feels like the result of the arduous journey that Bulat goes through on her fifth album. Across the record, she reflects on how good love makes us feel, but on tracks like "Already Forgiven," where Bulat sifts through instrumental haze toward forgiveness, or the title track, where she's on a tough, winding road toward vulnerability, she also meditates on the hard work that it takes to let love in.
Are You In Love? is Bulat's second record produced by My Morning Jacket's Jim James, following 2016's Good Advice, and while Bulat does heavy lifting with her emotional lyrics, the album sounds closer to a celebration than a tearful confession. It's Bulat's fullest-sounding record to date, and really excels in its loudest and most playful moments.
"Electric Roses," a song Bulat co-wrote with Meg Remy (U.S. Girls), softly shuffles with the sound of Bulat's trademark autoharp and "Your Girl" is a disco-lite track that glides cheekily thanks to a slinky guitar riff and spacey synths. Another album highlight, "No Control," is like a dizzying nightmare where you free fall through blackness, but the deep grooves of the bass and drums feels buoyant and gives Bulat the encouragement to vocally let loose.
Are You In Love? ends with an exclamation point, and one of Bulat's best songs; beginning with only Bulat's voice and electric piano, "Love Is at the End of the World" is soft at first, like early morning whispers under the covers, but it steadily grows louder as more instruments enter the fold. A little over the halfway mark, the song explodes into beautiful, electric guitar-led cacophony and Bulat's message gets more urgent: "love is at the end of the world." It is, especially right now, a vital declaration that even in hard times, you have to hold on to love. (Secret City)