Is Kellylee Evans a Canadian Sasha Fierce?
By Lenny Stoute
The soulful songstress clues us to this and other ideas simmering on her follow-up album, The Good Girl.
Where most artists who drop a noticed album tend to want to build on that by serving up more of the same, Kellylee Evans is confident fans will follow her to another place. The Scarborough-born singer came outa nowhere in 2007 with debut album Fight or Flight to win an award for best female artist, Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, plus Juno and Gemini nods. Evans is poised to drop her follow-up The Good Girl and a sneak listen reveals it rarely gives a look in on the jazz ‘hood.
Instead, its 12 tracks are a current-sounding blend of pop, urban, r’n’b and rock all given full due and then some by Evans’ rich, soulful tones. The overall impression is of a more self-realised artist coming into play. It’s also another stept in the ongoing ‘urbanization’ of jazz, which is what happens to the form when it falls into the hands of younger performers who bring to it their own generational influences.
“I fell into the jazz thing as a dare. I didn’t think the material I was writing at the time was jazz but it seemed like all the people around me were jazz players. One thing led to another then somebody dared me to try out for this jazz combo needing a singer and I found I liked it. I was making music surrounded by jazz people so when I thought to make a record, my jazz friends were the players I turned to and the album came out sounding jazz”.
This time around the songs are speaking with their own voices.
The songs on the first album covered a lot of historical issues, things in my background I had to deal with. This one is I me asserting myself, making my own decisions, dealing with things in the present. Wrestling with love, lust and longings and the realisation that when a relationship changes, those feelings just don’t go away, you still have to deal with them.
“ Thematically, The Good Girl is questioning the entire concept of good, what is ‘good’ and what ‘good’ is it and who decides what’s ‘good’, is what is ‘good’ for society always ‘good’ for the individual. You could say The Good Girl is partly a persona exploring ideas.”
Which brings to mind pop’s current alpha urban female persona Sasha Fierce, of whom says Evans.
“ We’re in a period now in the music business when a lot of strong capable women are coming to the fore. They share a similar stance in that they are strong, in charge and moving forward while at the same time maintaining their feminine vulnerability and need to be loved.
“ It’s like now young women don’t have to make a choice between those attitudes. These strong women don’t and I identify with that. So yes, I think The Good Girl and Sasha Fierce would get along fine.”
The album covers a lot of intricate ground lyrically and musically but never loses the plot, a tribute to the deep emotional bonds generated by the process of making the album.
“ On tour we listen to a lot of the same music, sometimes on loop so you hear them a lot. Afterwards when I hear those songs, I immediately remember where I was and what I was doing. Those songs sort of form the soundtrack of my life at that time.
“ That’s what I’d like people to take away from The Good Girl, a sense of where and how they were when they first heard the songs, that those tunes become part of the soundtrack of their lives.”
With the album done, Kellylee can’t wait to get out and rock the tunes for her growing fan base. Oh yeah, one other thing, the lady is aware the material on The Good Girl has tremendous remix potential. She’s holding a remix of the title track and says she’d be very interested in hearing from anybody who’d like to take a crack at remixing any of the other songs.
Anyone out there interested check Kellylee at www.kellyleeevans.com