KINLEY is an enthralling listen that makes you feel as though you’re a trusted confidant.

“Oh, this is me. I’m the quiet one”. These lyrics from “The Quiet One” by KINLEY (Kinley Dowling) are bold and  brave. She fears she has never learned how to project her voice when speaking, but throughout her self-titled LP, she has our utmost attention. The success of her 2016 single, “Microphone”, informs KINLEY’s sophomore record by influencing her to delve further into personal, compelling stories. The above-quoted lyric from “The Quiet One” finds KINLEY owning her docile traits at the same time as acknowledging that she has significant power in using her voice, her proverbial microphone. We’re all keenly listening.

Dowling is most known for her ten years as the violinist of the dearly-missed East Coast ensemble, Hey Rosetta! (those who know me are aware that I still haven’t recovered from the grim announcement of their indefinite hiatus in 2017). After playing on nearly seventy records as a guest violinist, it is refreshing to hear Dowling stake her own claim in the Canadian music scene. She released her debut solo album, Letters Never Sent, under a mononym four years ago and each of the eight tracks on her self-titled second LP dives deeper into her psyche. KINLEY, as a result, is an enthralling listen replete with tales to make you feel as though you’re a trusted confidant.

“Run With You”, the opening tune, moulds lush indie folk-pop with lyrics about overcoming shyness and allowing yourself to let loose. Finding yourself in the spotlight can cause a whirlwind of anxiety, especially if the attention is relatively foreign. KINLEY has never been the boisterous type, generally positioned side-stage or hovering near the back during performances with Hey Rosetta!. Here, all attention is focused on her, and it’s her voice commanding that attention. The stress of being vulnerable is evident in “Tuesday’s Child”, as she reveals that dancing in a room unabashedly without the presence of others is where her tranquility lies. 

Throughout KINLEY, Dowling exudes self-assurance and pronounced conviction despite her timid nature. The sense of finally feeling comfortable with yourself is evident throughout the album. She’s an expert at telling brief, yet strong stories on every track, be it warning about not setting your heart on an affair that has the potential for negative repercussions (“Take It From Me”), the story of friends who fell in love and were startled with a cancer diagnosis (“Lightworkers”), or the empowerment of a women’s march (“Washington”).KINLEY offers us a chance to hear Dowling open up and share stories while illuminating us with wholesome, Charlottetown folk-tones. By the end, it’s as though we’ve truly gained some deep insight into who she is and what makes her tick. The “quiet one” has spoken, and we appreciate her letting us in.

Nick Storring
My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell