Toronto songstress Jadea Kelly has an eclectic background, having sung for prog-metal troupe Protest the Hero and earned kudos for earlier folk-tinged albums Eastbound Platform and Clover. With any justice, Love & Lust will boost her profile, as it's a sparkling effort that fuses pure vocals, compelling lyrics and clean production.
The album was recorded over a long period at top Toronto studios Noble Street Studios and The Woodshed, with co-production by Kelly, earlier collaborator Stew Crookes (Hawksley Workman, Doug Paisley) and Tom Juhas (Royal Wood). The songs were captured live off the floor and recorded directly to tape, a format that complements the intimacy of the lyrics. As the album title suggests, carnal concerns are explored here, alongside infidelity, heartbreak and forgiveness, and Kelly's voice is expressive enough to convince the listener of the authenticity of these emotions.
The tone is set with the opening track (and first single) "Make It Easy," a contemporary torch song that covers a lot in just two-and-a-half minutes. Atmospheric guitar touches by Juhas are employed judiciously, adding a suitably liquid feel to "On The Water," for instance. Swelling strings (arranged by Jesse Zubot) add richness to "Love You" and four other cuts, while avoiding treacliness.
Helping account for the consistent quality of the songwriting is Kelly's recruitment of such co-writers as Crookes, Juhas, Jason Sniderman, Zoe Sky Jordan, Jeremy Fisher, Peter Katz, Robyn Dell'Unto and Ryan O'Reilly. The musician cast list is equally impressive, featuring the likes of Sly and Tom Juhas, Sniderman, Gary Craig and Brian Kobayakawa, with background vocalists including Bahamas, Katz, Dell'Unto, Jordan and Michelle Willis.
Love & Lust is Kelly's finest work yet. (Darth Jadea/Fontana North)