It's important to know when to say enough is enough. That moment came last year for singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly, when exhaustion took over and she left the road and frenetic touring for a more subdued environment and some much needed time to regroup.
Kelly, whose name may be familiar for her vocal work with Canadian metalcore group Protest the Hero, moved into a house in Toronto with several other musicians and began tending their garden while they were away on tour. The simple task allowed her to reflect and decompress, taking on a sense of routine and normalcy she hadn't felt in some time since the release of Eastbound Platform in 2010.
“I hadn't been in the same place for that many consecutive mornings for a long time and just the act of watering helped me root myself and just kind of become stronger,” she says. “I remember reading an interview by Feist saying she had been touring for so long that she felt her soil had lost all of its nutrients, and I just felt like that analogy of getting your hands dirty and letting the soil rest and letting yourself rest so that you can be fruitful with more inspiration and more music.”
From this came the material for her haunting and emotive album Clover, released in May. The album, named for her grandfather's farm in Ontario, strikes a connection between farming and life as a musician. Her parents had left suburbia to help her grandfather, who was unable to farm due to health reasons, and Kelly recalls witnessing a rebirth in her father that resonated with her own journey to grow as an artist, developing her characteristic folk style into something more experimental and “fiery,” as she describes it.
“He felt like a 19-year-old-kid again bailing hay and delivering cows, and I realized I wanted that feeling and that message to be the centre of the record,” she says. “Just that you should live your passion and, you know, we're here for such a short time, I just know in my heart I want to do music forever and I saw that same type of feeling in my grandpa. He couldn't stop, you know?”
This steadfast determination led Kelly to some difficult decisions concerning her career and the individuals she wanted to work with. The choices often left her feeling isolated, which became another underlying theme of Clover. On the cover stands a wolf and on the back is a crow, two creatures often marked as the antagonist despite positive attributes present in cultural folklore. The wolf is often regarded as a teacher rather than a malicious hunter while the crow, which is regarded as a macabre omen of death is also recognized for its cunning intelligence.
“I just felt like this lone wolf, this evil, lone wolf and severing all these ties, but it was necessary and I believe even more now it's necessary to grow and it's necessary to work with new people and I felt villainized in the choices I was making and that's why the wolf is on the cover: I don't see a villain. I see strength, I see growth,” she adds. “I didn't want to remain stagnant. As much as I loved the people I was working with … I had to. I think the songs grew and I grew as an artist and my voice grew stronger and I found my voice in all of this.”
Wed, Oct 30 (7:30 pm)
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