Album Review: Petal’s Shame
Kiley Lotz, or Petal as she performs, writes songs of loss and its procession of fragmented clarity in her 2015 album Shame. The album features her vocals accompanied by band Tigers Jaw, a strong pairing for the album’s short and feverish songs. Its overall style varies, shifting from a pulsing and steady “Tommy”, to a simple and haunting acoustic in “Silly Heart”. It is in this fluctuating style that the album formulates its message.
In the first song on the album, “Camera Lens”, Lotz recalls nostalgic images of “feet wet with dew”. However, in lines made more shocking by her gossamer vocals, she realizes that these fragmented pictures of childish euphoria may have rendered her “unable to move”. In this first song we begin to sense the thread of biting reflection that trails through the entire album. Lotz does not shy away from writing about love, though she recognizes the underlying guilt in her relationships. In “Chandelier Thief”, she sings of “bed sheets with flowers balled up like fists”, a testament to a relationship’s turbulence. In “Sooner” she laments love’s “perpetual, preventable ache”, while simultaneously musing on the “quiet and whole”. Lotz fuses the bruise of companionship with loneliness, noting how the two are often inextricable.
The album not only delicately constructs the skin and bones of a relationship, but also searches for semblances of peace in its demise. She states “I won't stop because/ you don't love me” in “The Fire”, grasping for the redemption we all must reclaim after a failed relationship. She wavers between stability and relapse, often within the same song, emulating struggle and panic. “Fear is a powerful antidote” she sings in “Nature”. Lotz does not feign any resilience or idealize her suffering. Instead, she lets her listeners examine their own heartbreak and find solace in her admittance of weakness.
The alternative rock genre has historically been dominated by male frontmen, so female artists often feel the need to harden their message in order to compete or gain respect as musicians. Petal contradicts this, instead finding musical strength in her gentleness. Singing about fragility, obsession and loss, she searches for recovery on this album and invites listeners to do the same.