Album Review: Kyshona – Listen

Why won’t you listen?’ asks Kyshona Armstrong on the title track of her powerful new album. She asks everyone the question, sounding weary at how society is to deaf to the needs of others. The album’s purpose was inspired partly by her background as a music therapist working with vulnerable people. Musically her mix of gospel, blues, soul and folk (let’s just call it Americana) fits perfectly with her message of inclusivity, empathy and acceptance.

Much of the album addresses the emotional impact of dealing with such a world. To name your emotions, like she does on Fear, gives you the power to begin to defeat them. On the bluesy Too Much she admits that sometimes the struggle is overwhelming. How do you keep on keeping on? We’ve all felt like that, and her stunning voice brings home the reality of working hard for meagre rewards. By the end she resolves to hold on just a little longer.

There’s a simmering anger on We the People, addressing the history of America and how displaced and enslaved people have had to fight for their rights just to exist in the country. We belong, she sings showing the importance of identity and inclusivity. The soulful ballad Fallen People tries to take the anger away, appealing to everyone to come together. It’s a beautiful moment of harmony.

My Own Grave is a moving song about the painful consequences of life choices. On Try she accepts the cyclical nature of life and reminds us to not give up hope on ourselves. This song, and the title track in particular, showcase the stirring background vocals that really add to the feel of the record.

Despite the title ‘Worried Mind’ is one of the most uplifting songs on the album, a vintage soul song that celebrates the joy of letting go. Similarly ‘Marching On’ looks to the future without fear. The album finishes with ‘More in Common’ reminding us if we can focus on what unites us rather than divides us then the world would be a better place.

In these uncertain times we need music like this more than ever. Open your heart and Listen to Kyshona’s compelling truths.

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