Bloom and Grow by Kyla Tilley

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Julian Squires

There’s no use denying that our human minds work in different ways on an individual level. Some of us are bound to be more excitable or explorative or curious than others, and it takes a very creative mind to be able to capture one’s individuality in such a way as Kyla Tilley does with her music.

Kyla Tilley is a Canadian singer-songwriter based in Newfoundland & Labrador, whose music can be described as alt/prog/post-folk, and can be summed up by the words, imaginative, quirky, and messy (with my best intentions). This album, her second, titled Bloom & Grow, documents a very personal trip of Kyla’s, a trip of growth and self-acceptance through depression, regret, and uncertainty. The music on the album can take a week to cover. Each song is an aura of its own, telling its own story about its own characters as they go about their daily lives, doing ordinary things that Kyla easily manipulates to make these actions heroic. 

The instrumentation throughout the entire album remains largely cohesive, in the forefront is Kyla, with her bizarre singing sensibilities, always battling for attention with the intentionally clunky drumming that’s characterized by a claustrophobic sound that’s entirely devoid of reverb. Barely balancing all this chaos is Kyla’s guitar playing, at once virtuosic and hilarious. Her guitar playing often falls out of tempo, but often more plays chord voicings and does changes that are way beyond the ordinary that demand all the attention. The album is definitely rich and complex, both harmonically and rhythmically, through both the messiness of the performances as well as the creativeness of all the individual parts. Standouts are Apathy, the only song here that’s drumless, featuring a beautiful harmonica that plays a breezy motif that compliments the song’s sweet composition. Another one is definitely The Dragon. A 7-minute behemoth of composition that features writhing and twisting parts and a fiery electric guitar solo.

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Overall, an album of exceedingly admirable qualities. Never for a moment would I consider it a walk in the park or an enjoyable listen to everybody, as I personally found it challenging to sit through some moments on the album, albeit because I couldn’t quite comprehend the number of details that I had to digest, not because I wasn’t enjoying the music. Also, it’s quite long. Clocking in at 53 minutes only adds to the challenge. So, should you decide to invest your time and dedication to sit through this album, you will be rewarded with an immensely colorful trip into the creative mind of a quirky artist. Should you decide otherwise, I believe Kyla Tilley herself would totally understand your decision.

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