From Switzerland with love, pain and glory: England’s finest blues and soul chanteuse opens her heart for all to share its beat.
“I’ve got so many treats in store,” intones Kyla Brox on “Beautiful Day” – and indeed, for all the allure of her studio albums, it’s onstage, where she belonged from an early age, that the entire scope and spectrum of the British singer’s immense talents come to the fore, and her gifts to the audience are abundant. This concert recording from March 2023 wasn’t planned for release, but it captured the lady at her emotionally rawest and vulnerable, performing a blistering set only five days after the funeral of her legendary father Victor, and thus turned out to be rather unique. Going from intimate to sultry and from strut to sorrow within a few-minutes span, the chanteuse never plays neither diva – her delivery is sincere at any given moment – nor Big Mama; instead, she pours her whole self in every note.
It’s impossible not to get pulled into the pathos-devoid, if cathartic and anguished, triumph of “Pain & Glory” – especially when the listeners are ushered into the show by the unpretentious, yet seductive, invitation of “When We’re Alone” and sent off into the night with the magnificently transcendental reading of “Hallelujah” that involves the myriad nuances of Ms. Brox’s velvet voice – or the funky swagger of “Choose Me” and “Let You Go” on which she’s flamingly defiant. Sure, Kyla may sound silky in the splashes of “Devil’s Bridge” that emphasizes the exquisitely sparse interplay of her band who support the singer’s pipes, and flute, with a lot of elegant gusto – her husband Danny Blomeley pushing muscular bass licks towards Paul Farr’s resonant guitar and locking into the sympathetic beat of Mark Warburton’s drums – and fill “Bloodshot Sky” with panache, but once the vocals whip up the groovily vibrant “Sensitive Soul” and “Honestly Blues” to embrace both her chosen genres, she displays the high and low extremes of her wondrous range.
These two cuts surround the roarin’ an’ rockin’ autobiography of “Bluesman’s Child” in which Kyla is swaying with a total abandon, as opposed to the gradually unravelling spiritual restraint she’s stoking “If You See Him” with before going for the call-and-response of “365” that prompts the punters to take part in the proceedings and latch onto the naked sentiment of “Don’t Let Me Fall” that’s also quite boisterous. And while this platter doesn’t delve deep into Brox’s back catalogue, focusing instead on 2016’s “Throw Away Your Blues” and “Pain & Glory” from 2019, such an approach will lend the album a conceptual feel and profoundness and present the very essence of the stunning Kyla Brox. It’s a gem in her invisible crown.