The theme of Ashes is clearly heartbreak. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Kyla La Grange, who is a Cambridge Philosophy graduate, said she wanted to “tap into that feeling of being really fucked up”, but sadly, Ashes doesn’t quite deliver. In fact, the dramatic love songs make this seem more like a Twilight film rather than an album to take seriously.
The record begins with ‘Walk Through Walls’ which is pleasant enough, but there isn’t that much which is particularly interesting about it. Unfortunately, this is the same for all of the first four tracks on the album. ‘Courage’ showcases La Grange’s lacklustre voice at it’s most bland, beginning as a ballad before moving on to a folk song which feels unusually slow. Crawling Kate Bush-style falsetto vocals pierce through in ‘To Be Torn’, before predictably building in the same way that all of the tracks have done thus far. By this point, you may be tempted to switch off, but do not despair, good music is on it’s way!
Thankfully, the album picks up, and the turning point of the album comes with the stand out track, ‘Vampire Smile’. With twisted lyrics such as “I’m gonna get so drunk on you / and kill your friends”, the “oh oh ohhh” chorus is a lovely Mumford and Sons style, celtic, folky triumph. This is followed by the massive ‘Woke Up Dead’ which is laced with bewitching backing vocals, huge crescendoes and stirring guitar solos. ‘Been Better’ is melodic, if not a bit over dramatic as she cries about telling her lover to leave.
‘Heavy Stone’ is the most believable and moving track on the record as it brims with emotion. An intimate and reflective moment is felt as the pace is slowed down as La Grange wails “I’m carrying my cold heart home”. Although these four spectacular tracks show what this young singer songwriter is capable of, later tracks on the album such as ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Lambs’ draw comparisons to Bat For Lashes but are not interesting enough to stand out on their own merits
This album could be great, but it’s not. It’s clear that La Grange has talent but Ashes is lacking something; it requires savvier production and some bigger songs, and as a result the album just feels a bit not-quite-there yet. Whilst some moments of the album draw me in, filled with intense and emotive melodies, others are just a little bit boring. La Grange has been compared to a range of musicians from Florence & The Machine to Pat Benatar, and from Alex Winston to Stevie Nicks, but this album sadly does not live up to the standard that these artists have set.