Despite being on a tour bus somewhere in the heartland of America in support of an album that’s been getting glowing reviews in national publications, Kylie Lotz seems to be taking the whole thing in stride.
The 27-year-old Scrantonian released her second album under the name Petal in June.
Called “Magic Gone,” the record has been getting well-deserved praise from outlets like Rolling Stone, where reviewer Maura Johnston gave the record four out of five stars and gave high praise to Lotz’s voice — “Kylie Lotz has a voice like a bell,” Johnston wrote.
And while Lotz said she is proud of reviews like Johnston’s, she said, for her, the more exciting part of her work is the energy she’s been receiving at shows.
(She told this to a Times Leader reporter during a phone call with occasionally spotty cell service as she was traveling to one of those very shows.)
“It feels really trivial and exciting,” Lotz said of her seemingly conflicting feelings regarding the praise she’s receiving. “I try not to linger too long on that stuff. It felt really good, but I give myself x amount of time to feel excited, then be focused on the shows.”
Marking the second record under her Petal moniker, “Magic Gone” sees Lotz drawing from a variety of influences. While her music is obviously inspired by some of the current sounds in punk, indie rock and emo revival, Lotz cited a smattering of other influences. Specifically, she pointed out artists like Queen, Janis Joplin and Nina Simone.
“Listening to those records, it doesn’t sound like they have anything in common,” Lotz acknowledged. “But they all have the drums higher up in the mix, which makes it super roomy, and the vocals are up in the mix too.”
Lotz said she tried to match this sound in the production on “Magic Gone,” saying it made for a more “raw” sound than on her previous record, “Shame.”
“We wanted the drums and vocals to be more forward, with natural reverb,” she said. “It makes this record different; we wanted to let the room do some of the engineering.”
This production choice is immediately apparent to the listener, especially on tracks like “Comfort.” Lotz’s voice reverberates as if she’s recording in a cavernous space. It makes for a somber sound, giving the songs a quality of having been recorded during a live performance.
Lotz’s airy voice grows more ethereal with raw production quality, creating the effect of either the listener being in the same room as her, or of her being entirely alone — themes which are both touched on lyrically in the record.
“It’s about change and coming to adulthood and trying to learn to love yourself and trust people around you,” Lotz said of the new record. “It’s about coming to terms with accountability for your own well-being.”
Lotz said the record “sonically embodies” that progress, starting with the jittering energy of the raucous opening track, “Better Than You,” and slowly growing more somber and introspective as it progresses.
“(The record) doesn’t propose answers, but shares my experiences,” she said. “If that’s helpful to hear, that’s awesome.”
And if what she says about the turnout to her shows is true, Lotz has been able to strike a chord in the hearts of listeners nationwide.
Petal is currently on a national tour, playing shows around the country with Camp Cope, Oceanator and Sidney Gish. According to Lotz, it’s been interesting to see how her shows have changed over time.
“It’s more of a mixed bag of people. There are people of all ages, all walks of life, when it used to mostly just be younger folks,” she said. “At the last show, there was a couple in their 60s, and they got T-shirts and everything. I think that’s really great.”
Lotz said she loves the sense of community that grows around her music at shows.
“I like the idea of people coming to hang out for a couple of hours with people they might not interact with otherwise,” she said.
The U.S. tour for Petal will end later this month, with the final show being played July 22 at The Other Side in Wilkes-Barre. Lotz said she’s looking forward to coming back to the scene where she got started.
“I grew up making music and writing music in Scranton and playing shows in Wilkes-Barre,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t grow up where I did.”
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan.