Jadea Kelly finds optimism in the darkness

Photo Jen Squires

After spending most of last year writing in her Toronto apartment, Jadea Kelly is back on tour to promote her third album, Clover, after a hiatus caused by exhaustion, according to her website.

Jadea Kelly performed in Montreal on Oct. 9 at Upstairs to promote her latest album Clover. Photo Jen Squires

The album is a new direction for the Ontario-based singer-songwriter. Clover, named after her grandfather’s farm in Ontario, has a darker, more sombre and orchestral feel that lends itself perfectly to Kelly’s haunting vocals while her previous albums were rooted more deeply in country and folk.

This new sound emerged from a collaboration between Kelly and her producer Stew Crookes. Crookes, with the help of other musicians including Jason Sniderman and Tom Juhas, allowed for Kelly’s album to take on much more musically complex and interesting harmonies than on her previous albums, Second Spring and Eastbound Platform.

“We have jokingly coined a new genre name for this record, ‘fire folk’ or ‘spooky country.’ The instrumentation is a lot more adventurous that our last recordings — a lot darker and orchestrated,” said Kelly.

Clover is a much more emotionally charged album than Kelly’s previous releases. While the tone is darker than what her fans are used to, Kelly claims that the driving message behind it remains optimistic.

“With this present album, I am trying to convey a message of hope and strength to my audience. I wrote this album from a tender and emotional place and hope to extend my newfound passion and strength to those around me.”

Kelly has high hopes for Clover when it comes to her fans. She hopes that they will connect their experiences with hers while enjoying the music.

“I would like them to feel relaxed and entertained. Even though these lyrics come from my own emotional experiences, I want them to develop their own personal sentiments and feel connected to one another in the process,” she said.

In order to get the rich sound found on Kelly’s new album, Crookes took the recording back to basics. Instead of recording on a computer or any digital form that is typical of music production nowadays, Clover was recorded on analogue two-inch tapes, according to her website.

“This album had a bigger budget than the others, and therefore allowed for more time to develop the songs and marinate ideas. We recorded to tape, live off the floor as well over a short two week period. Instead of going back and forth on ideas for three months, we solidified them during pre, pro and recording,” said Kelly.

Kelly is most known for her work with the Canadian progressive metal band, Protest the Hero. She was featured on three songs from their 2005 concept album Kezia, playing the part of the eponymous main character and toured with the band to promote the album. She was also featured on their 2011 album, Scurrilous.

Her solo work has also garnered her much attention over the years and has won her a Toronto Independent Music Award in 2008 and a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2010.

When she’s not busy working or touring, the singer-songwriter takes time for the things she loves.

“I shop for stage dresses,” she laughs, “drink good coffee, writing songs, and sleep.”

Her latest album Clover was released in May and  is now available in stores and online.


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