The moose got a little preoccupied with the festival season last summer and didn’t have a chance to write about a bunch of the releases that came out in the lead up to it, so I’m using the start of the new year to highlight some great new(ish) music.
Kaeley Jade is nominated for this year’s Canadian Folk Music Award for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year, but for my money, her strongest attribute is her singing voice.
The opening track of Turpentine, “Ego,” immediately shows off her versatility, shifting between delicate verses sung in an intimate, girlish tone and a bombastic chorus that builds in intensity toward the end of the song.
Her voice has a pure, crystalline clarity to it, capable of powerful pop refrains or of hushed passages that convey childlike innocence or wistful longing.
The eight-song album – give Kaeley credit for keeping her full-length debut short and to-the-point – includes several introspective numbers like “The Letter,” the title track and “Just Like You” (featuring Julian Taylor), alongside up-tempo pop scorchers like “Painless and Poltergeist.”
Most of them riff on that well-worn theme of love and loss, but Kaeley still manages to introduce some original ideas, notably on “Muse,” when she sings to a potential new love interest who’s still grieving the loss off an ex, “I wonder when the songs you write will be about me. I know I’m not your muse. But you were never mine to lose.”
Honestly, for me the weakest aspect of the album is the polished pop production, which takes Kaeley’s commanding vocal performance and solid songs and renders them rather two-dimensional, the kind of stuff that blends into all the celebrity noise.
But then, I don’t get the appeal of Taylor Swift, so what do I know?