Kyle Dion / Liza Drake Underground, Toronto ON, August 6
Published Aug 07, 2019In music, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. It's a lesson not lost on California singer-songwriter Kyle Dion: he's got the rock star look and swagger, but also has the vocal chops and stage charisma to back it up.
Although not yet 25 years of age, he already has two albums under his belt — 2016's Painting Sounds and the recently released Suga. Dion, who was making his first-ever appearance in Toronto, comes off as a Prince disciple by way of Anderson .Paak, Usher and Miguel.
Earlier, opening act Liza demonstrated why she's been garnering underground attention in the Toronto R&B scene. The singer-songwriter, who has worked with local producers such as Akeel Henry and dropped her February 29 EP back in 2017, is fuelled by a jazzy neo-soul energy; her Ciara-meets-Brandy vocal control impresses, as do soulful tracks like "Morning Glory" and "Here to Stay."
The twenty-something headliner Dion spread his love around with an intimate and precise set in front of a passionate crowd. He started the set on fire, literally, with "On Fire," off his latest release. Dion has been grinding within the underground scene for a few years now and it shows: there's a hunger, an overt charisma that calls for attention.
He covered tracks off Suga, including slowing things down (and turning things up with his falsetto) with "Not All The Way" and going hard in on rocking tracks "Cherry Blossom," "Brown" and "Spend It."
Kyle Dion's first showing north of the border was a hit. His performance revealed a hard-working, hard-rocking soul artist with a crystal clear voice. It was a sampling of what the artist is all about: hard-edged soul backed by live instrumentation leavened with alt-R&B aesthetics.