Despite our best efforts, there are some things we just can’t outrun. Everything catches up to us in the end, no matter what we do to hide from it. It’s a reality that Petal’s Kiley Lotz examines on Magic Gone, the band’s latest full-length album on Run For Cover.
Recorded over the course of a month at Studio 4 in Conshocken, PA, Magic Gone is a bitingly honest look at adulthood, accountability, responsibility, and mental health and the difficulties that go along with each of them. “There comes a moment where all the paranoia, anxiety and pain become too much and you realize the structure you built to survive is no longer is going to serve you,” says Lotz of the three year period that inspired the album. “I had to make some very big life changes to make sure I didn’t die. It was not easy taking that level control over my life after spending many years worrying about upsetting others and being the best and most successful person I could be.”
That’s not to say that the last few years have only been negative for Lotz - there were a lot of great moments, too. She moved from New York City to Philadelphia, toured with Julien Baker, Slingshot Dakota and Kevin Devine, and chose to come out and live openly as queer, just to name a few. Still, the good wasn’t able to outweigh the bad, and in early 2017, Lotz found herself hitting a breaking point. Ultimately, she made the difficult decision to move back to her hometown to enter intensive treatment for her mental health issues.
It was that duality - the valley between the positives and negatives of life that she’d experienced - that inspired Magic Gone and its two halves. Side A, titled Tightrope Walker, features songs Lotz wrote before entering treatment, while Side B, Miracle Clinger, is comprised of songs she wrote in recovery. “I think those two parts of me are what kept me alive,” Lotz explains. “I became so skilled at the act of getting through every day that I trusted that ability, but knew if I slipped I could face a bad end. Still, I couldn’t help but have faith in myself and people and God and that things could be better, even though I felt so lost and hopeless.”
The culmination of it all is an album that showcases Lotz’ prowess as both a vocalist and a songwriter, drawing equal influence from ‘70s powerhouses like Queen and Nina Simone as it does modern vocalists like Solange and Mitski. Producer Will Yip distills Lotz down to her purest form, lending an unprecedented rawness to her sound. Track by track, the singer transforms her vulnerability from a curse into a tool with which to examine both where she went wrong and where she went right in her struggle for survival. Lotz offers a lesson for each of us on having the courage to face our demons and make the best choices for ourselves. “Inevitably, we all have to make decisions that will be hard. But if we don’t at least try, then we may never know what life could be like.”