Jadea Kelly has a voice as clean and clear as shaved ice yet she will melt even the coldest heart with her tales of betrayal on her new album, Love And Lust. This is Kelly’s third record and is due June 4 2016 on Cadence. The one-time collaborator with prog-metal Protest The Hero has built a career on folk but Love & Lust defies category. There are elements of folk, elements of country, pop, electronica but is none of them. File it under Heartache.
There is the plaintiveness of Sarah McLaughlin and the inventiveness of Feist layered on the pedal steel streams of Daniel Lanois but this all Jadea. This one is personal. This one's for the ones broken by broken promises, laid low by lies, destroyed by deceit.
“It is a break-up record," says Kelly, “It’s pretty heavy, it’s uncensored and its honest and it's based off something that personally happened to me three years ago, discovering a two year affair. It's about infidelity and human frailty and it’s about forgiveness and love and it's about lust. It's my journey through that.”
Love and Lust is not as confrontational a rip as Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, Kelly is too smooth for that. It is not loaded with titillating details of theatre delicacies either. She is not revealing for revenge but for restoration of self, of soul, of respect and of dignity. She says she didn’t want to release the album or even record it because of the pain involved. But the only way out of such darkness for Kelly who also goes by the nickname Darth Jadea, was to write herself out of that darker side of life.
“I knew that it would help a lot of other people that have been in the same situation. It's happened to a lot of people,” she says.
Other artists have used music as catharsis, to deal with loss and pain in their lives. Both Evening Hymns and Kalle Mattson dealt with the loss of a parent by making a record and Luke Doucet wrote the brilliant Broken (and Other Rogue States) as his break-up record, one that runs along the lines of Dylan’s Blood On The Track. The concern is taking such an album on the road and dealing with in Dylan’s words the “idiot wind” travelling alongside you every night.
“I am apprehensive and nervous about (revisiting), I have moved on from it,” says Kelly, “The times when we have performed the songs in the past I do find it very therapeutic and just watching people’s reactions is also therapeutic. But I worry now, in particular the song “Mariah” is a tough one to perform because it was a friend. But it also has built such confidence in me when I am performing it with the band. Its very emotional but recording it was the painful part, performing it is the healing.”
While Kelly’s languid lilting voice and lyrics are front and centre on the album, they ooze crystallized cool on to the music underneath. She gave free reign to her band to build whatever they wanted around her and their sounds ripple out in all directions, emanating from her words, amplifying the emotions, giving her both space and support.
Longtime music associate Tom Juhas provided the security for Kelly to record live off the floor with co-producer Stew Crookes. He worked with Kelly on her previous album, Clover. Jason Sniderman, another longtime collaborator, was also involved and it was within that safe place where Kelly fully expressed the pain and heartache. Her musicians interpreted the emotions and the record is as much about the nobility of friendships, and the solidarity and intimacy within a band as it is about the harshness of love and relationships.
“The people Stew and I chose to play on the record are kinda weirdos. Tom and Jason especially and sometimes it's hard for us to say who played what because they kinda meld into each other and the stuff they listen to is stuff you’ve never heard off. You can catch Tom at the Orbit Room (Toronto) every Saturday night with Eye of The Tiger, He can play anything. He’s really quite wacky and the same with Jason. Perhaps that’s why the record sounds the way it does is because I give them complete freedom to play whatever the heck they want. I say colour it with all your weird and whacky stuff and I think that’s why they appreciate playing with me because they don’t usually get the freedom with other projects they get hired for. But with me it's like be a weirdo,” says Kelly.
Visual artist Gaelle Legrand is another member of Kelly’s team who has been granted creative freedom. The two bonded and became over the course of a Thelma and Louise like road trip. The resulting collaboration includes stage projections but also video work. The first single "Love And Lust" features a visualization by Legrande of Kelly’s soul baring. In the video it is her body that is bared.
The nakedness, the rawness, the vulnerability is turned into strength, into power. At one point Kelly may have felt invisible but she all visible now. Once she was made to feel small but she stands tall as a Colossus now. She may have hit rock bottom but with Love and Lust she comes out on top.