Transfiguration Highway, the latest album from Toronto-based indie folk band Little Kid, begins with a story about the Rapture — but certainly not a traditional one. On the LP’s opening track “I Thought That You’d Been Raptured,” with a harmonica-driven sound reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Wilco, lead singer/songwriter Kenny Boothby sings about finding his partner’s clothes in the living room when he gets home, thinking she’s been raptured when she’s actually having an affair.
“I remember joking about the concept with my partner,” says Boothby. “We both have some Christian history, and there are a lot of jokes between us about the Rapture. I knew right away it would make a great concept for a Little Kid song. I’m proud of that one because it’s probably the most overtly humorous song I’ve written. A lot of our discography is a little heavy and inward-looking, but people who know me well know I’m rarely 100 percent serious.”
This song is emblematic of the band’s playful, clever twists on religious and mystical motifs. The name of the album itself comes from the biblical Transfiguration — Christ’s radiant appearance to his disciples, or more generally, transformation into a more spiritual state. The album is the first the b
Little Kid started off as a one-person operation by Boothby but has expanded over the past few years to include Megan Lunn (banjo, keys, vocals), Paul Vroom (bass and vocals), Liam Cole (drums), and Brodie Germain (drums, guitar, percussion). The band provided Lunn’s first recording experience and also one of her first live performances. “I had already been a fan of Little Kid prior to joining and was familiar with past albums, so it was fun to add in harmonies or instrumental parts of the album that I enjoyed but weren’t already a part of the live performances,” she says. Lunn previously had only contributed vocals to the project, so she was excited to add banjo to Transfiguration Highway. “I also wanted to create unique and memorable harmonies for this album, and give it more of a country feel,” she explains.
Transfiguration Highway, the band’s first album for Brooklyn imprint Solitaire Recordings, departs from Little Kid’s early music in its heavy use of live-off-the-floor recording, with the band playing together straight to tape. In addition, the group aimed to center the piano, avoid electric guitars and guitar pedals, and find other ways to “make things sound strange,” like recording different parts at different tape speeds, says Boothby. “I’ve also been embracing accidentals and unexpected chords or key changes. I’ve enjoyed playing with expectations — playing chords that invoke a certain genre (e.g., a set of chords that make a song sound or feel ‘country’), and then subverting that expectation somehow.”
The tracks vary both thematically and sonically. In “What’s in a Name,” with airy vocals and pianos that conjure up Elliott Smith, Boothby explores how names and pronouns shape others’ perception of us, particularly with regard to gender. Lunn’s voice joins in for graceful harmonies and alternating verses in “all night (golden ring),” an examination of abusive relationship dynamics based on country singers Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
The project feels especially timely, as the world could currently be said to be undergoing a process of transfiguration right now. “Many individuals are starting the lifelong journey of transfiguration surrounding their views on racism and activism, and I hope that this will reflect how our governments function moving forward,” Lunn says. “I think feelings of isolation and disconnect brought on by the pandemic are driving the capacity for personal growth in a lot of us, challenging us to put more effort into connecting and understanding others’ perspectives.”
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