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July 2019
Review

Petal - Magic Gone

‘Magic Gone’ builds strength and resolve from the most vulnerable moments.
Petal - Magic Gone
Published: 6:55 pm, June 14, 2018
‘Magic Gone’ builds strength and resolve from the most vulnerable moments.

Label: Run For Cover
Released: 15th June 2018
Rating: ★★★★

Following a successful run of tours with the likes of Kevin Devine and Julien Baker, Petal returns with ‘Magic Gone’, ten tracks of assured songwriting and emotional depth. On her second album, having come out the other side of treatment for mental health issues, Petal’s Kiley Lotz is finding catharsis and clarity in her music. From the punky fuzz of ‘Better than You’ that opens the album to the closing strains of the ambitious ‘Stardust’, ‘Magic Gone’ builds strength and resolve from the most vulnerable moments.

Lotz tackles themes of isolation, mental illness and sexuality with a remarkable assurance, her strident vocals anchoring each track and driving the record forward. Stripped back to a softly strummed electric guitar, ‘I’m Sorry’ makes heart-break euphoric by its end, as a full band kicks in for the final chorus of the five-minute track. The confidence to dictate the sparse opening before inviting in the rhythm section speaks of Lotz’ growing accomplishment as a songwriter, which more than any of the instrumentals is the focus of ‘Magic Gone’.

With the first half of the record being written pre-treatment, the second half makes space for more sombre, reflective tracks, the piano-led ‘Something for Me’ in particular giving Julien Baker a run for her money in the emotional stakes.

Simple guitar phrases underpin the more bare-bones songs, providing a platform for Lotz’ affecting vocals, as on the pleading ‘Comfort’. The subtle background hiss of the title track, rather than being distracting, places the listener directly between Lotz and her band in the studio, creating the intimacy that this kind of record thrives off. That closeness permeates the record, drums captured close up and the thwack of plectrum on guitar coming through the mix. While ‘Magic Gone’ finds room for sadness and for regret, it is never allowed to manifest itself as defeat. Strength is the core of this record; strength in recovery, in coming out, and in learning from heartache.

Final track ‘Stardust’ is a triumph, managing a theatrical crescendo, as Lotz perfectly reflects the anguish of being young, broke and broken. ‘Magic Gone’ may be the album’s title, but there’s something special captured across these ten tracks. Dillon Eastoe

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