Kyla La Grange hits the floor running with the punchy ‘Walk Through Walls’. Powerful drums and guitars form the basis for a decidedly epic chorus and provides the first taste of La Grange’s unusual voice. A similar formula, albeit slightly toned down, rolls over into the second and third tracks, ‘Courage’ and ‘I Could Be’.
By ‘To Be Torn’ a new, and in my opinion more appealing, dimension of ‘Ashes’ is revealed. Occupying the higher end of her range, La Grange’s voice is piercing and potent, reminiscent of Kate Bush. The instrumentation remains thin for the majority of the track until a (by now) predictable climax, which ruins the eerie atmosphere created. Regardless, ‘To Be Torn’ is certainly a standout track of the album. The content stays dark with ‘Vampire Smile’, which documents the torment of a toxic, all-consuming obsession with La Grange singing “Oh God, look at me, don't you ever care... that I'm dying in the cupboard underneath the stairs?”
Throughout ‘Ashes’, La Grange demonstrates her ability to adapt to different styles, making a number of the songs completely distinctive from the others. For example, her lead vocal which opens ‘Woke Up Dead’, gliding above the scat singing backing, could almost be mistaken for somebody else. Elsewhere, such as in the delicate, acoustic guitar led ‘The River’ and ‘Catalyst’ she sounds a lot softer. A cover of the Maccabees’ ‘Love You Better’ is of a similar vein, stripped back, ethereal and a far cry from the indie rock original.
Following the theme, ‘Heavy Stone’ sounds different yet again, formed of piano chords and dripping in cellos. Yes, it may be melancholy, but who isn’t a sucker for a depressing song? With the addition of male backing singers, the chorus sounds almost like a prayer, matched by the thoughtful lyrics reflective of La Grange’s philosophy days. Evocative and poignant, ‘Heavy Stone’ is one of the most memorable tracks of the album.
Overall, ‘Ashes’ is a solid debut for La Grange. Although at times a little predictable, if the best elements are harnessed, I have no doubt that her sound will be able to evolve and mature.
'Ashes' is out now
Kyla La Grange’s UK and Ireland tour starts on 1st October in Bristol.
Words: Olivia Matthias
Images sourced online