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Kyle Kidd
Soothsayer Antonio Poscic , August 16th, 2022 08:11

Kyle Kidd of Mourning [A] BLKstar plays liberation anthems to a disco beat, offering a beacon in the darkness for Antonio Poscic

“Won’t you hide me there? Won’t you cover me?”, Kyle Kidd’s soaring, delicate voice shapes these words into a prayer on ‘Salvation (Ode for Eunice)’. Backed by grave piano stabs, rustling chimes, swirling guitar licks and occasional synth chromatics, the Cleveland vocalist and member of the Mourning [A] BLKstar collective draws from Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ to craft a song of liberation and self-loving devotion akin to those found in Alice Coltrane’s oeuvre. But where the original Black spiritual and Simone’s version are urgent, delirious, and turned outwards, Kidd’s song feels like a personal epiphany. “You're fully exposed, you're fully exposed”, they cry out, releasing an acceptance of themselves and a glorious announcement to the world.

Throughout Kidd’s debut solo album Soothsayer, Black history and artistic heritage are understood as living and breathing concepts, not static, commodified objects to be consigned to museums. Kidd’s musical memory quilt is alive and in constant flux as it draws from soul, gospel, R&B, hiphop, rock, and jazz to create miniatures that sound at once vintage and futuristic. On ‘Temple’, the crackle of vinyl sets a sepia-tinged backdrop for grooving, gritty beats above which Kidd’s sampled line “this goes out to the one I love” is elevated into a warm hymn, followed closely by a resolute testimony of self-actualisation: “first there’s me then you then us”.

Elsewhere, the introspective ‘Scars Alight’ is driven by hazy Rhodes lines and a soulful, funky rhythm built on top of hand drums, allowing Kidd to consider all the ways they have been made to feel wrong, broken, and unwanted in their life. Although the concepts of Black and Queer otherness permeate the whole album, nowhere else are they as explicit as on this song. Here, the contrast of Kidd’s fascinating voice and the heaviness of their lyrics provoke a visceral emotional response, instilling a sense of radical empathy and joy of liberation.

While reflective, Soothsayer is meant to be a beacon in the darkness. ‘TMS’ finds this light “right on time!” in energetic disco and funk à la Chaka Khan sustained by rhythmic “ah” vocalisations and a throbbing, irresistible bass line. Later, ‘Glass Dance’ is illuminated by trumpets and bursts of guitar licks and ‘Last Time’ lets clarinets and flutes rip out in Middle Eastern modes, riding close to the offbeat fusion of Herbie Hancock’s The Headhunters.

‘Inside My Love’ begins to wind the album down by ascending into divine soul, which ‘Dreama’ then dissolves into lush ambient. Kidd’s inflection elongates, turns words into mantras and lets them float on a current of gentle flutes, plucked harp, and an all-embracing bass line. “I was a dream for you as you were for me”, they sing, letting the dream become reality.