Album review: Journey – Kyla

After taking a break from recording to focus on being a wife to basketball cager Rich Alvarez and mother to their first-born, Kyla is back with a new album. Journey is also her first-ever EP in her career spanning fourteen years marked by awards, both local and international.

The album starts off breezy with the jazzy track “Kunwa-Kunwari Lang,” the first single released in April 2014. The song is a proper introduction to the quirkiness and the wide range of sounds that Kyla has managed to meld together in the EP. Kyla plays with the vocals as easy as the wind lightly caresses a lace curtain.

The title track brings the listeners back to the warmth of her 2006 hit “Beautiful Days.” Although not a love song like the latter, “Journey” induces a smile with its positive theme, backed by vocal arrangement from Kyla’s good friends JayR, Billy Crawford, Kris Lawrence and Marcus Davis.

Probably the strongest from the six-track EP, “Dito na Lang” bleeds with emotion with every sound that comes out of Kyla’s mouth. This is a prime example of how Kyla is masterful at using her singing skills to tell a story. With beautiful phrasing and powerful dynamics, “Dito Na Lang” is definitely the album’s diva number.

A midtempo jam in the form of “I Got This” follows. This brings back Kyla in her quirky combination of pop, r&b and jazz sensibilities. Along with “Kunwa-Kunwari Lang,” this fourth track from the EP is reminiscent of Filipino jazz trio Baihana.

A duet with international singer-songwriter Brian McKnight follows. Beautifully written, “My Heart” is McKnight’s early wedding gift to Kyla. Their mutual admiration is evident in how they feed off each others’ vocals in this piano ballad. Both singers let loose with runs that the track could have used less of, but the beautiful dynamics makes this track sound like an impromptu and therefore all the more realistic performance.

“Atin ang Walang Hanggan” then reminds listeners that Kyla is still the country’s reigning R&B Princess. With instrumentation just as compelling, Kyla enriches the melody with swooning vocals that proves her skill as one of the pioneers of Philippine R&B.

Not as big as Kyla’s past full-length albums, the Journey EP will still undeniably impress fans and non-fans alike. The main strength of the EP is its versatility while remaining focused on Kyla’s mastery of her instrument that has won her the most number of wins by a female act in the Awit Awards.

Song Review: Dito na Lang – Kyla

It was a breath of fresh air when critically-acclaimed Filipino R&B singer-songwriter Kyla released “Dito na Lang” on May 22, 2014. This is her second single from her EP Journey.

Kyla is truly in her element with this release as compared to other songs in the EP which sounded either too groovy (“Kunwa-Kunwari Lang”), too retro (“Atin ang Walang Hanggan”), or too Mariah Carey (“Journey”).

The music video was directed by Treb Monteras II and released July 31 showing Kyla wearing a purple dress in the middle of a barren desert. The treatment was classic, romantic and deeply symbolic of the mood presented by the lyrics of the song.

The lyrics and melody exude a sense of longing and, at the same time, acceptance and toleration — a dramatic and contrasting combination that only true love can bring to life. Composer Kiko Salazar may have been high with Cupid’s inspiration while writing “Dito na Lang.” It is a perfect song for the deeply emotional and love-filled Filipinos. Short, moving and direct to the point. The lyrics hits a soft spot like a sharp arrow and the listener takes it in, pain and all, because it is such a beautifully written song. This is OPM in all its splendour.

This track may be considered as the redeeming element of the whole album. The other pieces were all good, but “Dito Na Lang” highlighted Kyla’s singing voice and exceptional vocal range. She is definitely one of the best female vocalists that this country has ever produced comparable to the likes of Regine Velasquez, Kuh Ledesma and Lani Misalucha.