Classified as folk with country influences, Jadea Kelly’s new album Clover is a compilation made for calm summer days of reflection and relaxation. Three years since her last album, Eastbound Platform, the artist’s sound has evolved. The 11 songs on Clover compliment each other; they vary in sound, yet pleasantly remain a cohesive listen — demonstrating her breadth.

Clover is the name of Kelly’s grandfather’s farm as she shares, where the majority of the album was composed, however, the farms influence extends beyond the obvious. The singer/songwriter is driven by her love for music saying, “Spending time at Clover, I have seen a strong relationship between being a farmer and being a musician, both require an immense amount of passion because there are very little financial reward or little guaranteed financial reward or guaranteed retirement, but that’s never stopped my Grandpa and that will never stop me.” Adding,”He doesn’t want to stop, he doesn’t know anything else; its kind of that underlying hope to just live your life with passion instead of being stuck in something that doesn’t inspire you. So that’s the message that I wanted to give people: life it too short to not live for what makes you happy.”

Kelly — humble and soft-spoken — has the ability to turn a clichéd statement into an inspirational ballad. Emotion embedded into her explanation, she has disclosed her perseverance despite obvious struggles down her own path to happiness. Everything appears to have taken a turn in the right direction. “There is a point in everyone’s career, especially if your leading your own career — especially as a woman — when you need to step up to the plate, and become the boss…to survive you need to become stronger.” Kelly admits that people are starting to listen and she has a stronger team now, as well as funding to promote her music that strives to be heard.

Hosting fundraisers, going on dates, and private concerts helped fund Clover. Yes, dates. Fans could support her by donating a certain amount, and Kelly would go on a date with them or play a private concert for them. One such date was with a man from Boston, he took her to dinner followed by a Blue Jays game and is now a friend. She also sells Darth Jadea (a nickname that stuck) t-shirts. She jokingly adds, “I am just hoping I don’t get sued by Disney.”

Kelly’s journey of hardships and success is reflected in Clover; lessons learned in life and in music. She says, “There needs to be a bit of vulnerability and transparency — I think that’s what Eastbound Platform taught me — there needs to be a song and it needs to reach people and then you can add all the glitter on top.”

With Kelly’s music career blooming, she is an inspirational figure. Focusing on the pursuit of happiness and vulnerability, she delves into the topic of depression, reaching out to those unable to pull themselves out of the dark. Kelly admits there are many people in her life that suffer from depression and “Wild West Rain” is “actually written about the love and strength that can grow from supporting someone who suffers seriously from depression.” A personal favorite on the record,“Wild West Rain” is a plea to those suffering from depression; reminding people they are not a lone wolf — she hopes they will seek help.

Keeping the intended message of “Wild West Rain” in mind, I inquired about the music video for the song. The video triggers childhood memories; Kelly is riding a pink bike with a tiara and tutu, while pulling a man in a wagon behind the bike. Kelly explains that she is supposed to be a symbol of child-like innocence and that it is “Jadea Kelly at the age of 12.” She continues, “I am collecting all these dreary band mates and bringing them to this dance party in the forest, and that is kind of a symbol of depression and pulling someone out of it and showing them an end or a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kelly’s strength did not just stem from supporting the people around her suffering from depression, but from the drive to sing and her Grandfather as a role model. Kelly evidently has grown up since Eastbound Platform, she shares, “That’s really what the record is about: me kind of evolving into this new person. I think that’s why the sound and the songs and the lyrics are also a bit heavier and have bit more edge to them.”

Like “Lone Wolf,” a track the artist explains was a hill for her to conquer, as she had “never sung with that much gusto before.” Her producer would try to ignite a fire in her by reminding her of the time she was stranded in Europe. Previously, she had never had to push herself vocally quite like that.

Later after our interview when I saw her perform at Toronto’s Great Hall later, I paid particularly close attention to her performance of “Lone Wolf.” Kelly sung it with assured confidence. No one would suspect her previous struggles with this number; there was power and passion backing it. Despite songs like “Wild West Rain” being influenced by depression, the subject matter is not necessarily a reflection of the songs themselves. Her performance that evening showed that not only was she a strong person, but a strong performer.

Up to date, The Great Hall’s stage was one of the largest Jadea Kelly and her band had stepped foot on. Kelly’s future goals are to tour overseas and have a new record released before the three-year mark, while continually evolving her sound. And we’re confident, the musician’s determination and strength is sure to land her on bigger stages. Clover is just the start, and as she expressed previously, she will not stop heading down the path before her.

Published August 9, 2013