‘Roses’ – Jadea Kelly

4 stars (out of 5)


‘Roses’ is Jadea Kelly’s first post-pandemic release and the timing couldn’t be any better. We’re in the middle of the hottest summer in decades and ‘Roses’ is the coolest of the cool; it’s a gentle breeze and an iced drink on a parched August day. It’s a very laid-back album; it never feels like anyone is overstretching and although there might be many layers of sound, it never sounds cluttered. The album has a very unified feel although it’s created by too many musicians to list and four separate producers. The musical stylings are varied as well, but there is one thing that pulls together the whole endeavour. Jadea’s voice has a purity that’s reminiscent of Suzanne Vega or maybe early Joni Mitchell or the quieter elements of Rickie Lee Jones (‘Last Chance Texaco’ maybe). Whatever comparison you make, her voice is a thing of rare beauty.

Jadea’s obviously not superstitious – the album has thirteen songs and, not surprisingly following a pandemic and moves between Canada and California, there’s a strong theme of impermanence running through the songs, hinted at by the title. Roses and flowers generally are used in art to symbolise beauty and evanescence and there are three songs here ‘Roses’, ‘Picking Flowers’ and ‘Ten Roses’ that use the flower motif. There’s also another theme appearing in the last two songs; the support and affirmation of a mother throughout our lives, and her ability to show us how to learn from our experiences. ‘When I Fly’, with its lovely harmonies and ambient slide, focusses on the aspirational side of that support, while the violin and acoustic piano-led ‘Running to You’ looks forward to a future maternal reunion.

The album’s not all about loss and fading away. The appropriately named ‘Happy’ has two simple messages – do whatever makes you happy and make sure you have someone to share the happiness with, while ‘Any Old Boat’, with its layers of instruments and vocals, has the equally simple message that happiness isn’t about the way things are dressed up, it’s about people.

The songs on ‘Roses’ (mainly co-writes) are economical; they generally take one idea and express it succinctly with powerful imagery. This is mirrored in the instrumental stylings. They may be densely packed, but no-one plays anything they don’t absolutely need to; it’s perfectly performed. Coming back to the vocals, there’s always something different going on, whether it’s choral harmonies, layered vocals in the middle of the stereo spectrum or harmonies panned hard left and hard right, which all creates variety while enforcing the unity of one truly beautiful voice. ‘Roses’ is a lovely piece of work; give it a listen.

‘Roses’ is released in the UK on 26th August 2022 on Darth Jadea Music/Tonetree.

Here’s the video for the title song:

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