It’s rare to achieve intimacy and connect with a roomful of strangers, but this is what Kyla Brox achieves with Live at Köniz Castle, recorded at the Kulturhof in the grounds of Köniz Castle, Switzerland, on March 25 2023.
Kyla is the youngest daughter of legendary bluesman Victor Brox, as fondly remembered in the autobiographical ‘Bluesman’s Child’, with its heartfelt, “Two in the morning, still on stage / No chance of school next day…”
Her music is predicated on the notion that blues and soul are indistinguishable forms, and lashes the force of Afro-American music with a distinct Lancashire sensibility. To hear the singer in full flight is to be convinced that Kyla Brox is the greatest soul singer Britain has yet produced.
A ratio of two covers to 14 originals seems about right. The originals draw on Kyla’s consummate skills in role-play and imaginative empathy. Some of her songs are touched by lived experience, and are inspired by people she has known and loved. The immortal ‘Bluesman’s Child’ fits this category. Of the covers, Kyla’s classic interpretation of ‘Hallelujah’ blows every other version out of the water. No really. Listen and you’ll find that it’s an objective fact.
A road-tested four-piece with the standard singer plus guitar, bass and drum line-up departs from blues rock conventions whenever Kyla tootles her flute, a sound which summons back to African atavism. Connoisseurs of blues guitar may wish to note Paul Farr’s capacity to channel the expressive force of the immortals Peter Green and Jimi Hendrix, and his ability to shadow Kyla’s voice. Drummer Mark Warburton and bassist Danny Blomeley calibrate the pitch of intensity in perfect unity, whether holding back or surging forth.
Taken as a whole, Kyla and crew achieve a perfect balance between sensitivity and ferocity.