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Kyla La Grange @ Upstairs at the Garage, 2nd February 2012

HMV Next Big Thing Series

Young, attractive, intelligent and now a bona fida “Next Big Thing” you could say that things are looking pretty good for Kyla La Grange in 2012. She’s certainly getting her fair share of media attention and there’s a definite sense of excitement to the atmosphere in the upstairs of the Garage. There’s been no shortage of female acts with strong voices mining the treasures of the past 40 years for inspiration and La Grange seems to have found her niche with a slightly countrified-goth-rock sound, earning her comparisons with Florence and Bat for Lashes for her effort.
Coming on stage, face adorned with glitter and looking slight and younger than her 24 years, she launches into early single Been Better with her band. Throughout the set she makes full use of the backing, building the sound or her rock ballads to accompany her vivid, story-telling lyrics. Been Better sets the tone, with its loud-soft-loud dynamic working the crowd. As the surging riff resides and the gentle strum of the verse kicks in, you can’t help but think that her voice has a Dolly Parton-esque quality to it, which is not to say a bad thing – OK she may be from Watford – but she seems genuine and sincere enough with her sound to carry it off…we’re not talking Joss Stone here.  Courage has a choral quality, building into a triumph of a chorus, only slightly let down by the clunky lyrics (“hole in your sole” anyone?). Vampire Smile is a lilting, mid-tempo strum that mellows the pace, before Lambs, a stomping, sing-a-long-for-the-future of a track, builds and grows into a monster that certainly entertains the Florence and the Machine comparisons. Overcoming a broken guitar and some possible nerves, like one of her songs, La Grange certainly grows into the set. She uses her guitar free moments to move around the stage and with one arched-back rock pose, she almost causes the ‘intense’ looking guys at the front drop their perma-recording cameras. Almost. There’s no place for Walk Through Walls, slightly surprisingly, and she finishes the set with ballad ‘Catalyst’ which is a gentle end to the evening.
By no means the finished article and probably in need of a couple more quality numbers to fully captivate, Kyla La Grange is a definite talent that has a unique enough sound to set her apart from the growing list of female singer-songwriters. It’s not hard to imagine that a large proportion of the room were solely here to see her tonight, to settle their own hype-induced curiosity, and it’s probably safe to say that they were not left disappointed.

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