Your Playground was released ten days prior to the official start of winter on December 11th of 2017.
One could argue that the December 11th, release date was a fitting timeframe to let the world hear these songs by Fiona Kimble, whose lyrics are dark and whose music is moody and atmospheric. Leave the bleak wintertime tunes to Kimble.
The heartfelt songs on Playground, released amid Christmas cheer, deserve a serious listen as Spring seems to be avoiding us. They have an exquisite, delicate feel — and if at first the vibe seems overly desolate, don’t give up. Keep listening. Eventually this music, which also has elements of modern-day pop, will seep into your bones and strike a chord.
Playground begins with the line “Where on my body does it say/That my skin is your playground?,” which aptly summarizes where the artist is coming from throughout. This is a young woman who has seen her share of relationship heartache and isn’t afraid to communicate the wreckage. Sometimes the pitch of Kimble’s voice sounds defiant and brazen as she sings about the nonsense she won’t endure; more often, she comes across as forlorn and resigned. Another lyric — “And I didn’t even know/That my existence was all that bad” — from the song “Sarah” (which features fantastically lulling background keyboard work) is indicative of the mood throughout.
But for those who are willing to wallow, the payoff is grand. This is a mesmerizing, beautiful effort both musically and vocally. From a musical standpoint, the deft bass guitar work on the songs “Call Me by My Name” and “I Don’t Even Know” was a pleasant bonus that stood out amid the quiet sounds. Enchanting piano sprinkles the songs here and there, along with some acoustic guitar. Kimble’s crooning on the tune “Who Are You” and other tracks is captivating and sincere.
Her singing isn’t easily pinpointed. At times, Kimble sounds like a young Stevie Nicks; sometimes there’s more of a girlish Olivia Newton-John quality to her voice; and on the gorgeous ballad “Valley of Worry,” she sings like a highly polished contestant on The Voice. However listeners might hear her, Kimble’s versatile, at times soaring vocals give the album flair.
The song “If There is Anything” concludes Playground and contains a familiar, plucky sentiment of defiance amid relationship ruin. All told, Your Playground shows remarkable songwriting growth following Kimble’s 2015 effort, No Regret. The sophomore album is more polished, more tuneful, and more entertaining. If she develops as much on yet-to-come albums, the artist’s musical future will be as bright as a winter night when the moon shines down on the snow.