Friday, January 25, 2013

Analyzing "Never Broke a Bone" by Kira May

Yesterday, Toronto vocal and visual artist Kira May released Never Broke a Bone, the gorgeous first track from her upcoming debut EP.

In the song, the narrator reveals that she missed important, normal, healthy childhood experiences, presumably because of lifelong fear, but it is not clear if she was unaware that these experiences were available to her, or at least to other kids, or clear if she is aware of their importance to her development and happiness, or if she was denied these experiences or discouraged from participating in them.

She examines the impact of her fear by recalling and reflecting on these physical experiences: absence of the injuries of healthy childhood activities “Never broke a bone”; the symptoms that accompany her fear, trauma, regret and desire to make life fulfilling choices; her compulsion to escape her body to eliminate her fear, “If I run faster, I’ll release me”; her perception of physical experiences as the cause of her fear and perceived limitations, or independent of them, instead of her physical experiences being a symptom of it.

Subconsciously, it seems, the character is interpreting health as a message from the body and also interprets her body as a solution. Singing and other vocalizations become an act of agency. She relies on herself, her body mostly, to express – and communicate -- emotion. This isn’t just an act of catharsis. She is reaching out, sharing, and beginning a healing process by using her body.

The lyrics reveal her belief her body is weak, possibly permanently, pathologically and disablingly so. The strength of her voice, the clarity of her breathing and the stamina of her performance starkly contradict this. Her physical performance suggests she has already begun to heal, but her lyrics suggest she is not conscious of this, is perhaps in denial, or not (yet) ready to face her issues.

Kira's vocals and her slow, steady, gentle heartbeat drum also contrast her character's expression of weakness and fear. Her rhythmic breathing throughout the song is similar to a breathing exercise for anxiety or childbirth. suggesting a concerted, learned effort. There is strength and calmness here, in equal measure. 

The physicality of Kira's performance itself serves as testimony of her character's fear, loss and healing.

As the song progresses, more layers of Kira’s voice emerge. A choir of Kiras all contributing different perspectives and emotions. Her character is conversing with herself, revealing to herself the many facets of her complicated psychology in a vocal introspection so deep that you can almost swim through it.

Kira May will perform at the Big Smoke Music Festival on January 25, 2013 at 8 pm at the Tall Boys - Craft Beer House in downtown Toronto.

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