Thursday 2 August 2012

Kyla La Grange - Ashes

Many have been comparing 'Ashes' to Florence + The Machine's work.  Certainly La Grange is aiming for a similarly "epic" sound, but her roots are clearly more in folk - obvious from her soft, lilting vocal and folk inflections.  The album's reworking of previous single Heavy Stone is indicative: now a slow, acoustic ballad rich with vocal harmonies.  At the other extreme, bonus track Walk blows up the folk style with raging guitars and thunderous drums, but the "dance for me dance for me" chorus remains suitably jig-like.  Her influences extend beyond Florence Welch to the likes of chanteuse Anna Calvi and Bat for Lashes.

However, the production does threaten to ruin the album.  It's intended to give a live feel, as if at a festival, and it's certainly a stadium filling sound.  Yet the various layers are so drenched in reverb that the textures bleed together and La Grange's vocal is often overpowered and unintelligible.

The songs also bleed together a little, but there are enough idiosyncrasies to keep things exciting.  You Let It Go begins with some percussive use of rhythmic breathing, whilst Lambs has some experimental use of percussive sounds that borders on Massive Attack.  Two of the bonus tracks, Walk and The River, present the two extremes of her sound from heavy guitars to gentle acoustica.  These tracks prove that La Grange isn't afraid to push the boundaries of her sound.

That said, she's most comfortable performing the big hooks and melodic choruses.  Walk Through Walls may bare resemblance to Florence's Dog Days Are Over, but the "get up" chorus is hugely uplifting.  The lyrics of Vampire Smile are Twilight-esque ("I'm here trying not to bite your neck, but it's beautiful and I'm gonna get so drunk on you and kill your friends") but it has a great sing-along chorus.  Been Better has another crowd-pleasing chorus and Lambs' extended crescendo marks a suitable conclusion to the album.

It's these moments that really hit home.  At her best, La Grange offers some compelling goth-folk-pop that's rapturous without being overblown.


Gizzle's Choice:

* Walk Through Walls
* Been Better
* Lambs

Listen: 'Ashes' is available now.

Watch: On top of festival appearances over the summer, La Grange will be touring in October.

You may also like...
* Florence + The Machine
* Anna Calvi