Kyla Charter has the patience of a seasoned gardener: composed, restrained, and willing to wait until the time is right to harvest her musical bounty.
I do not doubt that once you hear Toronto-based singer Kyla Charter’s debut, Edible Flowers, you’ll find that it fills a void you didn’t know you had. “I truly put my heart and soul into the making of this body of work,” she says on the album’s Bandcamp page, “I hope it brings you something you were in need of.” Charter has built a steady and solid reputation as a go-to singer for July Talk, Alessia Cara, Zaki Ibrahim, Rich Aucoin, and Patrick Watson, but Edible Flowers is very much a work of art all her own.
Though short in length (its seven songs clocking in at twenty-six minutes), Edible Flowers is abundant in atmosphere and style. Charter cultivates a woozy, minimalist, neo-soul bouquet of sounds on opener “Doubts.” It’s not only the first song on the album but also the first single she released as a solo artist. Charter and producers Safe SpaceShip use this introduction to explore and amplify her essence by sampling her voice. The song’s lyrics are essentially one line — “I’ve got my doubts about you” — but every repetition inflects the line with new meaning and intention. That lyrical economy is a hallmark of all of Edible Flowers; “Hey Mama” treads similar ground, building a soulful and contemplative melody out of funky whisps and tendrils.
“Qwyn” is a song about Charter’s sister, whom she describes as her “best friend and co-conspirator” while growing up. Still, it opens with what feels like an exasperated sigh after a long cry and the lines “Goodbye, goodbye / Can’t tell if this is goodbye / I don’t know what I am without you.” In a press release, Charter has said she started writing the song a decade ago when she feared she might lose her sister. Returning to the song now, as the siblings’ relationship was evolving and changing with age, “made way for a love and appreciation of the people we are now,” she explains.
Similarly, all of Edible Flowers serves as a metaphor for how to make way for love and appreciation of changes over time. Whether it’s transforming familiar musical elements in “Bach to the Future” or stripping back the arrangements altogether on the acapella closer “Another Name,” Charter has the patience of a seasoned gardener. She is composed, restrained, and willing to wait until the time is right to harvest her musical bounty.