In 2015, I saw Kiley Lotz (the founding and only permanent member of Petal) perform in a high school hallway on a makeshift stage during an annual male-centered pop punk festival in mid-Michigan. The way she stood on stage looked like the way I stand when i’m uncomfortable; Lotz and myself were two of a dozen of womxn amongst hundreds of men. Unassumingly, she strummed her guitar and sang ‘I’m Sorry’; a song we’re lucky to see again on Magic Gone. Her voice is clear and pure; if we lived in a cartoon, tiny birds would float out of her mouth. I saw her later in 2016 when she opened for Pity Sex. Her confidence on stage had grown tenfold; an incredibly warm and friendly presence that made you feel like you knew her all along. Following this time, Lotz’ grappled with mental illness, guilt, shame, and her sexual and gender identity which she shared with Out Magazine earlier this month.
Magic Gone (06/15), released on Run For Cover Records, is Petal’s (PA) second full length album.
Side A, titled ‘Tightrope Walker’ consists of songs written prior to treatment. We’re able to bear witness to her self-reflection, self-doubt, and her tendency to put others’ expectations first. While ‘Better Than You’ is the song bopping on your summer playlist that reflects a fuzzy-guitar driven 90’s vibe, ‘I’m Sorry’, first featured on Petal’s 2013 EP Scout, finds its place in this arc of self-discovery. We see patterns of heteronormativity being examined: “A binary system/We pace around another/One is bound to shine/More bright”. We’re offered an invitation in ‘Comfort’ to a boiling point in her relationship with the lyrics, “And you could barely drive when I said/I don’t fucking care anymore/I don’t see the point of lying for/What I am only tearing apart”. The visual of sitting in the passenger seat next to your partner is relatable, but more importantly, this scene casts a mirror of ourselves and the destruction that occurs when we do not honor our own truth.
Side B, called ‘Miracle Clinger’, are songs she wrote while in treatment. We’re taken along for a journey that many of us have lived through in our own unique circumstances; a reminder that we’re not alone. Our departure begins with ‘Stardust‘, which captures the nostalgia of who we once loved as we move forward. “I became so skilled at the act of getting through every day that I trusted that ability”, Lotz speaks on her ability to be functional amongst her mental health hardships; a badge I have worn many times in my life only to discover the weight is heavier than I. She spent the last year intentionally building a practice to acknowledge, address, and treat her mental illness. Lotz is an artist that represents myself and many of my close loved ones in presence, in struggle, and in discovery. Magic Gone is proof that we can peel back our vulnerability to honor the depths within us and create community when we share our struggles.
Lotz’ offers the raw intimacy of her voice which feels as if she is a close friend singing to us on a summer porch. Kiley Lotz, a talented musician, has carried Petal through their second full length record. Petal is currently co-headlining with another Run For Cover Records favorite, Camp Cope. We’re rooting for Kiley as a friend, we’re showing up for Petal as fans, and we’re experiencing the aura of Lotz finding her way just like so many of us.
Kiley Lotz of Petal
Press photo from Shore Fire Media
STAFF CONTRIBUTION: ALYCIA SOCIA