Wildlife (in and out of the city) is Kingston, Ontario duo, Kyra and Tully’s debut full-length CD featuring a who’s who of talented local musicians who have contributed to this country and folk-pop treasure chest of acoustic ballads sung by a 21st century Ian and Sylvia.
Recorded by Chris Coleman (who also supplies bass, tambourine & mandolin) at Leopard Frog Studios in Battersea, and accompanied by just a few of Kingston’s able musicians including Danielle Lennon (violin), Roger James (banjo), Jay Harris (lap steel & electric guitar), Rob Gillespie (upright bass), Jay Middaugh (drums) and Jonathan “Bunny” Stewart (alto sax) among others, Wildlife is an excellent choice for an evening starlit campfire or intimate candlelit dinner party. It is obvious that Kyra & Tully are partners in every way as their voices compliment each other like peanut butter and jam and their music is the same kind of staple that everyone should have at least a little of.
Kyra Walker and Michael “Tully” Pearson, artists in every sense of the word, switch off on lead vocals on practically every track and these are soothing, soul-affirming, thoughtful songs that celebrate “beauty, sadness, and hope,” both from the road and from the heart. They’ve been described as sincere, truthful, and wistfully sad, but what you’ll notice right away about this collection is how sweet-sounding it is in its entirety, making it a little jam heavy for this peanut butter lover’s taste. Kyra, who sounds a lot like Sarah Harmer on this one, sings about nature and the strength and importance of her relationships while Tully reflects on travel and getting back to family and home.
Stand-outs include Tully’s classic Thunder Bay (which includes a striking harmonica solo), the up-tempo toe-tapper, Let It Ride (featuring Tully’s inspired keys), Under The Moon (highlighted by Jay Harris’ lap steel), as well as the delicate piano & glockenspiel lullaby, Far Away.
I know I’ve been listening to too many indie folk/pop singer-songwriters over the past few years because I find myself longing for artists with an edge, who sing from their groins; imperfect but full of fire and fervor. Although Wildlife (in and out of the city) is a solid effort that is somewhat melancholic without losing hope and often apple crisp delicious (Bruce Cockburn endorses it), it just doesn’t inspire me in ways that won’t make me forget it.