"Sometimes you have to tear your f@#$*ng guts out… sometimes it's just there. Music is a fluid thing that never flows the same way twice," explains KaiL Baxley about his upcoming earthy, organic and super-soulful album A Light That Never Dies (Forty Below Records; release date June 2, 2015). Self-described as "soul swagger" which captures its precise tone and sound almost exactly, he explains "It's kinda got a throbbing swing to it all for some reason. It just comes out that way... it gives you a little swagger when you walk."
Warmly analog and delving a depth of soul that recalls Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison if percolated through a slow-burning hiphop shuffle, A Light That Never Dies effortlessly melts genres, from the 50s croon ("Tell the Falling Sun"), to country blues ("Owe"), to vintage 70s soul with gospel/blues flourishes ("The Ballad of Johnny") to haunting slide-guitar atmospherics ("Chasing James Dean") without losing the sight of his deeply emotive vocals that transform from smoky to sultry, velvety to whiskey-soaked, indie rock to gospel, often times in the same measure.
A former Golden Gloves boxing champion who also held dance offs as a child with his neighbor - the legendary James Brown, KaiL took this fighting spirit to music, composing textural, cinematic songs that evoke moods and emotional swells that delivers a hefty aural knock out. "I suppose that there is no way to create something honest without there being some reflection of who you are in it," he explains. "That coupled with our generation being exposed to so many different types of music probably created the source from which the well sprung, so to speak." Co-produced by producer/engineer Eric Corne whose recording credits include Lucinda Williams, Glen Campbell, Kim Deal and John Mayall, A Light That Never Dies was recorded over the last year in three different cities – from the gritty streets of Los Angeles, CA, to the metropolitan indie rock squall of Brooklyn, NY to the downhome folk of Charleston, SC - and the three normally disparate city cultures flow naturally into the music.
A songwriter whose music is intensely personal and sometimes leaves him emotionally vulnerable, his songs often come from deep within. Like many of the tracks on the album, the first focus track and album closer "Mirrors of Paradise" recalls a visit from an old friend when he played a show in San Francisco. "This was the only song I think I have ever written with someone else in the room," he reminisces. "We had gotten onto the subject of dealing with loss and letting go, an issue we had both been wrestling with and we had a connection – an openness I've seldom experienced in my short life. I've never been into the whole 'gazing into each other's eyes' bit, but that's just what we did." After she had fallen asleep, he began to compose the song with "the first two verses basically a summary of the conversation and the room. The moon was creating a 'halo in the window' from the condensation, and so on. I wrote the whole basic idea right there on my phone with her sleeping on my shoulder and then worked up the ending later in the studio." The result – a gorgeously moody track that soars and glides over mournful string arrangements, is the perfect showcase of what KaiL is capable of… a powerhouse whose musical punch delivers quite a heady blow.
His 2013 critically-hailed debut album Heatstroke/The Wind and the War was nominated for NPR's "Album of the Year", and earned him the enviable laud as "One of NPR's top new artists" by All Songs Considered and "absolute perfection" by Caught in the Carousel. Famed producer David Tyson (Joe Cocker, Hall & Oates) said of KaiL, "His voice and his songs are simply arresting! They have a way of haunting you to the bone."
"It's funny how songs come to you," KaiL concludes. "They're almost like f@#$*ng leprechauns sometimes. Trick is you've gotta be ready to catch them." If this album is any indication, he's quite the skilled trapper.
A Light That Never Dies will be released on June 2, 2015 via Forty Below Records and was co-produced with Eric Corne.