Kyle Craft turns heartbreak into lyrical ballads on ‘Full Circle Nightmare’

As young and lively a musician as he is, Kyle Craft is undoubtedly a man of the past. Since his bombastic Sub Pop-backed debut, “Dolls of Highland,” in 2016, Craft has worn his glam-rock inspired musical slant like a cape. Though his music draws heavily from the past, it manages to avoid sounding derivative, as Craft’s flamboyant songwriting tends to invigorate his nostalgic tunes completely, making it as if he were one of his genre’s founding fathers.

If you were to try and pinpoint his influences, you’d most likely arrive in a strange hybrid territory between Bowie’s colorful Ziggy Stardust phase and the raw honky-tonk rock of The Rolling Stones. Craft’s tunes employ rolling piano riffs with the occasional supplement of an organ or guitar lead, but all elements leave the spotlight for the singer’s larger-than-life tenor voice, which seems to always be the most expressive instrument, as he effortlessly travels higher ranges with unhinged flare.

On his sophomore record, “Full Circle Nightmare,” the elements that propelled Craft into national recognition still remain, but there’s a persistent concept that his debut didn’t contain: the sorrow of unrequited love. With the subject matter of the record originating consistently from his broken-hearted state, you’d start to wonder if Kyle Craft’s best state — musically speaking — is one of emotional turmoil. Right from the opening track of “Full Circle Nightmare,” his freshly opened wound of lovesick agitation makes itself apparent.

“Was she the warhead, or the firecracker? / Was she death itself, or whatever comes after?”

Song after song on the record sees the young troubadour desperately longing for closure in the wake of emotional calamity, which, like his musical voicings, isn’t necessarily a new concept to the music world. However, it’s hard to ignore the lyrical prowess Craft goes through in his reflective songwriting, and this trait is ultimately what makes “Full Circle Nightmare” such an engaging listen. Take, for instance, the record’s lyrical high point, “Slick & Delta Queen,” which features Craft comparing himself to a former love interest’s new man. As the track’s jangling piano plays an endearing riff, he belts:

“I bet he calls you baby / I always thought you were more to me.”

It’s a place where many of us have been, but despite the universality of the feeling, Craft makes the hopeless sentiment of unreturned affection immediately impactful and poignant inside his personal anecdotes.

Despite his tendency to let his cutting, half-yelled voice dominate the majority of the tracks on “Full Circle Nightmare,” it’s at Craft’s softest moments that he pierces into the hearts of listeners the most, and the final utterances of ardency on the record’s closing ballad, “Gold Calf Moan,” make it hard to ignore the sincere motivations that exist inside Kyle Craft himself.

“Send your regards when your heart is ripe for the stealin’.”

To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email

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