Lyle w/ Kathleen Murray and Maltby
Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA

It was a unique night at the Tractor Tavern for one reason: seats. A makeshift theater/church was the backdrop to celebrate the release of Lyle’s second single, “Believe In The Dark.”

The first of two openers was Maltby, a piano-based pop group fronted by Shay Carlucci. The name Maltby might make you think of the cafe in Snohomish with the biggest cinnamon rolls known to mankind. In the band’s case, their sound was even bigger. Anchored by Carlucci’s booming vocals, they were more like Ben Folds turned up to 11. The crowd knew from the start that the band could turn it up, but the best part of the night came when Carlucci told the story behind “Crows and Doves.” “I wrote the song and music the day after I met her and I played it at our wedding.” The crowd was floored.

Kathleen Murray was up next. She may be young, but her songwriting evoked a person who has lived out hundreds of stories. Murray’s vocals were tender with a hint on longing, a quality that endeared her to the crowd; as one local musician told me, “Her voice will break your heart.” It did in the best of ways. This was on full display in her current single, “Illusion,” a tale of conflict, love, and moving on. Murray’s partner, Lauren, is also her drummer. However, on this night, she performed her first live tune on the guitar on a duet; a lovely moment. Kathleen Murray is definitely one to watch.

Lyle describes themselves as an art-rock band, which could mean any number of things. What started as a duet between local favorites Lana McMullen and Arthur James transformed into a septet of musicians with diverse backgrounds. Maybe art-rock is a convergence of different genres. Lyle has no lead singer, but they do have classically trained cello, violin, and piano players, and a brand of music that ebbs and flows between the foundation of James’ rock influence and McMullen’s folk sensibilities.

Lyle’s set began with their new single, “Believe In The Dark.” A song about James’ divorce, it was a heart-wrenching song with driving strings and James’ brooding baritone complimented by McMullen’s light intensity. The apex of this song was two-fold: James’ impressive guitar solo and the call and response vocals between James, McMullen, and Leah Tousignant. Dynamic vocal ranges were a staple of their music.

Their first single, “Get Me,” was their last song for the night and a great bookend to their set. The song evoked who Lyle is as a band; it had multiple layers of vocals, instrumental hooks, and rhythm. The star of the song was Matt Price’s controlled chaos on drums, a solid foundation to a powerful ballad. The entire band was highlighted, which was a theme to most of their songs.

A band like Lyle, solo artists that have found identity through collaboration, is very special. The most amazing thing about their performance was that this was only their second live performance. You wouldn’t have known it by how they disarmed the audience.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson


Kathleen Murray