There is a fine line between sensitivity and melodrama.
Petal, the musical project of Kiley Lotz, doesn't reveal specifics in "Comfort" to determine where she stands, but she makes her disquietude known. Her soft falsetto recognizes that the dissolution of a relationship, the space in which something intimate becomes ill-defined and romance starts to waver, is an idiosyncratic experience every time, for every stranger, friend and loved one. It also happens to be why "Comfort" is so heartbreaking.
The song begins immediately, giving the listener no room to zero in before Lotz starts her story, voice stripped down, joined only by a subdued electric guitar. There's nowhere to hide for her, or for whoever is willing to hear her story. She begins, "And you could barely drive when I said / I don't f****** care anymore," the profanity elongated and performed so delicately the wounds have yet to heal. Later, she whispers "and I am not your comfort anymore" — the moment the title is unveiled arrives deep within the song's structure, which then changes shape: Lotz's voice lowers in tone and she declares and concedes: "I can't survive without your touch."
"'Comfort' is about seeing the way mental health disorders can affect even the strongest bonds," Lotz tells NPR. "And praying to God or the universe that you can find the strength to either work through the symptoms, or accept that you may not be able to offer the comfort that someone may need."
In the song, her lyrical lines vary in comprehension — when the song reaches its coda, they become crystal clear, the result of a vocalist working through her anxiety as she performs it. Her greatest strength here isn't invention, but writing through painful humanity. Lotz seeks comfort that doesn't exist anymore, and that she can't seem to find in past memory, either. Living is funny that way sometimes.
Comfort, which includes a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs," comes out Sept. 15 via Run For Cover.
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