Pigskin Records [Release date 15.04.16]
From the opening gospel feel of ‘If You See Him’ to the closing heartfelt love song ‘I Will Love You More’, this album reconfirms Kyla Brox as a peerless confessional – sometime torch singer – with a wonderful range and an ability to phrase like an angel.
This well crafted album ticks all the right boxes in terms of her own performance and that of her band, but it fails to challenge and stretch her beyond her comfort zone. As a result ‘Throw Away Your Blues’ lacks the instructive nature of its title, and isn’t memorable enough to cross her over to a bigger audience.
There’s a tad too much tension in the material and not enough free flowing moments. Kyla is after all a naturally gifted soulful blues singer with jazzy edges, who knows when to hang back, let the song breathe and phrase eloquently, before nailing the note. The trouble is there’s simply not enough lyrical substance to merit the connection between her vocal ability and deep emotion.
The material is a tasteful mix of slow to mid-tempo relationship songs that shift from the confident first person narrative of ‘Beautiful Day’, to the spiky gender politics of ‘Run Our Home’ and the funky ‘Choose Me’, on which she does reach out emotionally.
The latter track benefits from a confident beginning, but then fails to build on it. Kyla sounds far more comfortable on the following close to the mic balledic commitment song ‘Road Home’, albeit she colours the slow build with the kind of vocal gymnastics that rescue several songs from an unmemorable fate.
‘Run Our Home‘ is also a welcome up-tempo gear change, with poignant lyrics delivered over the fluid rhythm section of bassist Danny Blomeley and drummer Pablo Leoni, while the breezy ‘Ain’t Got Time’ is topped and tailed by an ansa machine, suggesting that the band realized the need for some contrast.
‘Change Your Mind’ is a beefier blues ballad on which she soars majestically, and she further extends herself on the funky groove of ‘Lovin’ Your Love’, courtesy of a better arrangement that elevates a laid back, late night vibe into something more exciting. The sultry ‘Honestly Blues’ also impresses with Paul Farr’s crisp guitar, Kyla’s intuitive whispered phrasing and some subtle band interplay on a cool slice of blues.
What’s really missing is a brasher production, an extra set of ears and possibly a dominating presence that would give the songs more impact and provide a more focussed showcase for Kyla’s abilities.
Given her extraordinary vocals and flute playing ability, the Brox/Blomeley song writing partnership settles for an understated blues album that smoulders, flickers and occasionally sparkles but never quite catches fire, but you feel there’s better to come. ***½
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
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