KaiL Baxley has already lived many lives—amateur boxer, grave digger, watermelon picker. As a child, he may have even contemplated dancing when he picked up some moves from his mom’s fellow prison inmate at the time, The Godfather of Soul James Brown. Yet, since his 2013 debut, Heatstroke/The Wind and the War, and follow up, A Light That Never Dies (2015), music has been the South Carolina-native’s only vocation.
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Baxley’s third album, Beneath The Bones (AntiFragile Music), out March 6, is a continuation of singer and songwriter’s sole journey through regrets, moving on, and letting go. All of this resonates throughout Beneath The Bones. Now residing in Los Angeles, Baxley is an old-soul who has seen a lot in his time. He’s had his own run-in with the law, lost both of his parents to drug overdoses, and eventually used music to move him forward.
Produced by Baxley and recorded at the late Elliot Smith’s New Monkey Studios and United Studios in Los Angeles, Beneath The Bones digs deep down into Baxley’s Americana fusion of blues, gospel, and bottomless soul. There’s no holding back on hymnal, soulful singles “Beneath The Bones,” and “These Arms are Open,” both glued tight by the heavy husk of Baxley’s vocals.
Third single “In Lieu Of” is mesmerizing. Inspired by love—and a photograph—it moves tenderly along by acoustic guitar and violin with Baxley’s lyrics slipping wistfully into Then we slip away / Find some simple place / We can raise our hopes / Growing old.
“I had this lightning bolt realization that love really is the most powerful thing a human can experience,” Baxley tells American Songwriter. “It has the ability to transcend all—even the end of the world. With that in mind, the song just kinda wrote itself.”