24-year-old Cambridge graduate Kyla La Grange is wise beyond her years and in possession of an ethereal, unique voice which is matched with melodic harmonies, soaring choruses and clever lyrics in her otherworldly songs. First hotly tipped a year ago, I’m very excited to hear her eagerly awaited debut album, Ashes.
Walk Through Walls is a strong, positive opener on a generally rather dark album; an anthem of hope which sees La Grange repeat the mantra ‘get up, get up, get up, enough already’. Next comes Courage, another fantastic song which showcases her lyrical strength with lines such as ‘I knew if I sailed a thousand seas and threw myself at your feet you’d leave me’ and ‘hold your hands or don’t leave me hanging on’, as she sings about trying to resist someone that’s no good for her. Perhaps the best song on the album – and in possession of an extremely infectious chorus – is Been Better, in which again she cuts into a lover, warning ‘feed me none of your lines’. Meanwhile, other highlights include the bewitching I Could Be and Heavy Stone – a particularly poignant break-up song – as well as Catalyst, a powerful track which builds up wonderfully.
Kyla has said that with her music she wants to “tap into that feeling of being really fucked up” and she’s certainly achieved that with the record – the songs are all tales of heartbreak and yearning; she’s a tortured soul, and emotional, angsty lyrics abound. As you can tell, there are a lot of similar themes here, but rest assured that doesn’t make the record any weaker, and it never gets tiresome. The mystical elements in her music bring to mind Kate Bush as well as contemporaries such as Bat For Lashes and Florence and the Machine – yet unlike the latter, La Grange’s vocals are particularly powerful in their reticence as opposed to their volume; this is depicted especially well on quieter numbers on the record, such as the brilliant To Be Torn, on which her beautiful vocals really shine.
Ashes is a first record to be proud of; dramatic, daring and different, it draws the listener into its enchanting world. It’s also a fitting name for an album which, although often focusing on troubles, is ultimately about using inner strength to rise above them.