"This is one of the most extraordinary and powerful CDs I have heard in a long time. Irish-born, now Yorkshire-based, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (nine instruments, if you're counting) Kayla Kavanagh has constructed a powerful debut album influenced by the fact that she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. This condition afflicts two per cent of the UK population, and one tenth of sufferers commit suicide. Kavanagh writes and sings about love, about the coalescence of fear and prayer, even quoting George Matheson's classic hymn for the grieving, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" in one song. As someone who has pastored people with BPD, I found her artistic approach illuminating.
Kavanagh has more depth and more hooks than any of the shallow X Factor gruel so often punped out by our mass media. The music on 'Stranger Than Fiction' itself varies from piano ballads to energetic pop with Kayla integrating styles that are more organic than Goldfrapp but more electronic than Sarah McLachlan. The one problem I had was with those tracks where the multi-tracked vocals had too much electronic processing for my liking, when I thought that rawer, more natural sounds would have been more powerful.
But overall, this isn't simply a worthy release: it's stunning."
Album rating: 10/10
The MusicianMusicians' Union Magazine
"Stranger Than Fiction is a blend of folk and electronic pop from a Yorkshire-based musician who plays nine instruments. Kavanagh, who helps raise awareness for mental health charity Mind, shows signs of real promise, especially on the strong cuts Waterfall and Better This Way."
"This is a time where the radio seems to regurgitate songs that celebrate human consumerism, the search for a quick fix of pleasure and pouring out lyrics that flaunt an artists possessions that the average radio listener might dream to have. An almost machine like quality to the way these songs are written, produced and subsequently performed has left out a deep, human passion; a feeling exerts itself through love, hate, melancholy and maybe even regret.
Stranger Than Fiction, the debut album from Kayla Kavanagh completely defies the mechanics of popular music presented through radios and lays on the table a platter of pure human emotion. This exquisite album displays those feelings that are distinctly present in human (whether we like it or not). It plays them out with great lyrics, strong musicality and a unique use of technology.
The opening song draws you in straight away. The power of the lyrics in the verses is complimented by a stunning chorus which draws on your heartstrings with every note. The use of a vocoder effect on Hold On (To The Future) shows Kayla is unafraid of mixing in a little bit of technology to not only appeal the electronic age, but also to smartly bring a sense of hope to this deep album.
It’s great to hear an extensive range of influences brought together in this album; Eva Cassidy, Imogen Heap, Tatu and even a small nod towards Lady Gaga every so often. Other ear-catching songs include the brilliantly powerful Scared of the Dark and the bouncy Love You, which even with its major tones balances perfectly with the melancholy of other songs found on this album. Kayla Kavanagh has brought in a deep, heartfelt approach to the pop scene which has not been heard for a long time. With her soft toned voice and extensive range of instruments (which she can play), this is an artist who will definitely provide some great listening in the coming years. Her next album is being realised and if it is anything like Stranger Than Fiction, the radio machine will hopefully be replaced by a beautiful, beating, human heart."