Petal – Magic Gone (Run For Cover/Cooking Vinyl)

Paranoia, anxiety, guilt and pain…these are the building blocks that make up Magic Gone, the second album by Petal…aka Kiley Lotz

Pennsylvania-based musician Kily Lotz has had a rough time of it since the release of Petal’s acclaimed 2015 debut album, Shame.

Since then she’s suffered mental health issues, come out as queer, grappled with oncoming adulthood and, by the sound of some of the songs on Magic Gone, experienced a breakup or two.

The album begins with the sound of distorted electric guitars and drums. Better Than You sounds indie rock at its finest with Lotz’s voice not dissimilar to Courtney Barnett’s. The track has the sound of a full band, although a peek at the credits reveals that Kiley is playing everything but the drums.

The lyrics reflect the anxiety she goes through while performing.

“They say, ‘Hey man, you were great’, but they don’t even have the slightest affection that you’re really not doing OK”.

The full band treatment continues with Tighrope, although at a slower pace, but lyrically, just as potent… “The truth is just a piece of coal dressed as gold…I felt an ancient scream come out of my mouth”.

But from then on, things get more sparse, more intimate.

I’m Sorry consists of just guitar and voice until the “band” comes crashing in at the end for some dramatic dynamics.

The stripped down approach continues with Comfort and Shy…both tracks featuring lyrics that sound like they were taken directly from the artist’s diary…while the tempo plods along.

Things liven up with the title track. The instrumentation is more interesting…piano and organ can be heard in the mix…and the lyrics, while intimate, reflect feelings that most folks can relate to…ie the end of a relationship.

But then the next three tracks revert back to the slow, solemn, sparse guitar and voice approach which I found wore a bit thin after a while.  Lyrically, things got a bit much as well such as this line from Shine… “You’re the tick I found at summer’s end…but you’ve embedded yourself and you’re sucking my blood”.

Fortunately, things end on a (relatively) up note with Stardust. It sounds like another breakup tune, but the piano and voice eventually builds up to include guitars and drums and grows to a crescendo, leaving the listener wanting more.

Perhaps Kiley Lotz’s songs would be better served if Petal were a full-fledged band with other musicians around to add a bit of musical diversity to the proceedings.

As it stands, Magic Gone is a mixed bag…its starts out strong, lags in the middle and finishes on a high note.

Marty Duda