KaiL Baxley is a Williston, SC-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has seen praise from the likes of NPR and KCRW for a sound that draws heavily from old school soul and Mississippi Delta – – and for songwriting that draws from characters of his life — including an outlaw father, whom he only met once; but whom Baxley insists is a good, decent man; his mother, who was once an inmate at the same state penitentiary James Brown was in — and as Baxley mentions, Brown sang at the prison’s church and later taught a shy, young Baxley how to dance; his wise and very dear grandfather, whose anecdotes and wisdom he still quotes to this day; and the best guitar player, he personally ever met, his small town’s local mechanic. But along with that, his material draws from his own life and experiences. At one point Baxley was a Golden Gloves champion, with a chance of competing for the US Olympic boxing team before a run in with the law and a gunshot wound on his left shoulder sidetracked that dream. Sometime later, as a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Baxley left his small town and drove across the country with a few dollars and his guitar. And when he arrived in Los Angeles, he slept in an RV parked on Selma Blvd to pay for the studio time to record his full-length debut, Heat Stroke/The Wind and the War, an effort that went on to be nominated as NPR’s album of the year.
Building on his growing reputation as a singer/songwriter, Baxley’s sophomore effort A Light that Never Dies was released last year to critical praise from KCRW and NPR, who hailed the album as a reflection of the Williston-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter’s greatest talent — seeing beauty in our darkest and most desperate moments. Interestingly, with the release of “Killin’ Floor” and “High on the Moon” earlier this year, the Williston-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter continues with the bluesy and soulful sound that won him critical praise and national attention.
“Killin’ Floor,” Baxley’s first single of 2017 draws heavily on classic, back water blues, “the acapella, foot stomping kinda thing you find in the rural south where I’m from,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains. “The song stems from the feeling of you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.” Sonically speaking, the slow-burning song sounds as though it bears the dusty, old-timey imprint of legendary singer/songwriter and producer T. Bone Burnett — thanks in part to a sparse, atmospheric arrangement featuring shuffling guitar chords, brief bursts of soulful organ, gently padded drumming that gives Baxley’s soulful vocals enough room to express a familiar, timeless and visceral ache.
Directed by Ryan Sheehy and based on a general idea that both Sheehy and Baxley came up with about a Black Widow type, driving into the desert to bury the young lover, she just killed, the recently released, cinematically shot video features Baxley’s friend Michelle Forbes as the female lead. And while possessing an old-fashioned sensuality, there’s a palpable sense of dread an unease throughout.