Following her solo debut, 2016's Letters Never Sent, Hey Rosetta!'s Kinley Dowling is creating her own musical legacy. Brimming with pop hooks and optimistic flare, her self-titled sophomore release brings ideologies of pacifism and luminosity to the surface.
KINLEY has never been afraid to dig into the parts of life that are messy, frightening, or painful — but she does so with a gentle touch. Heavy ideas are held up for examination but always handled with care. Whether she is finding the joy in being alone ("Tuesday's Child"), turning her love towards an idol ("Run With You"), or drumming up support for the #MeToo movement with a marching band rhythm ("Washington"), KINLEY cultivates the kinetic energy of discipline.
The highlights of the record comes when she sweeps opaquely into thematic territory. The lush and personal "Lightworkers" tells the love story of a couple who dealt with a cancer diagnosis and calls on — as well as celebrates — the people with the ability to bring light to dark situations.
Like "Lightworkers," "The Quiet One" has a sincerity that fulfills the eponymous title of the record. "All my childhood memories involve someone dying," Dowling shares. There is a darkness here unlike elsewhere on the record. Country cadence patters along the buzzing guitar. "Oh this is me," she sings, "I'm the quiet one." The album concludes with a celebration of the future, of possible money coming in, and of safety.
KINLEY continues to pair thoughtful and emotive lyrics with upbeat tones. A bearer of light who isn't afraid to move into the dark, KINLEY's shift to pop sweetness only widens her reach. (Independent)