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Album Review: Kellylee Evans' Fight Or Flight?


By Dirk Binsau of Jazz Not Jazz


Canada is becoming more and more important upon the map of black music and the attentive readers of jazz-not-jazz surely remember Nick-e, Diane Taylor or LAL.


Kellylee Evans is another Canadian who impresses with her debut album full of original songs.

Kellylee was born in Toronto but lives now just outside Ottawa, Ontario. Throughout the years, she performed at various talent shows and was a member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir.


At the Carleton University she was part of a school jazz combo. Soon she realised that studying law may be fine but her heart was really with music and she eventually pursued a career in music.

Flight Or Fight, her debut album, is really an amazing start. To start with, there’s the well photographed cover (yes, I’m always a sucker for a great photo) and unlike most of her peers Kellylee relies only on the strength of her own compostitions.

Kellylee offers a unique blend of jazz, soul, blues and reggae and then some with a few pop overtones on her debut album:


 “I started getting into jazz before Diana Krall started getting big. Her success really floored me,” Kellylee says. “Growing up, I wanted to be a pop star, but when I started liking jazz so much, I realized I wasn’t going to be pop star famous, but then Diana’s success really got exciting.

The majority of the songs were produced by Lonnie Plaxico and Kellylee and recorded within two days in New York City (January 12-14 2004 to be exact). Only the first two songs were recorded in April 2005 (again in NYC, but co-produced by Carlos Henderson).

The album’s starter What About Me?, is a great haunting slow tune with fine acoustic guitar input by Carl Burnett. The subtle Lead Me Closer is of the same calibre.

The powerful Hooked provides a nice change with its rock influences. The heartfelt I Don’t Want You To Love Me is one of my favourite tracks, here we have a singer torn between one of the greatest emotion and the fear of getting hurt one day:


I don’t want you to love me no, no/ I can’t handle the thought that you would go/ It’s easier if we cut these ties that bind/ Ever tightening as days go by/ This may come as a surprise but/ I don’t want you to love me goodbye/ Don’t think of this as a fear to commit/ My therapist said there’d be days like this/ Though it seemed that our love would go stronger each day/ It did, but I fear this attachment to you/ I know I’m not meant to feel passion this was/ Just as I know that you won’t stay."

But Kellylee’s lyrics can cut even deeper. On the Latin-tinged title Fight Or Flight? (Help Me, Help You) for example. “That song is all about seeing tragedy and people in need all around you, but not really wanting to get involved; not being sure how far you can get involved,” Kellylee says. “So many people of my generation, we feel apathetic. We feel like if we make a move we’re not gonna be able to effect any change.

The album continues with the bluesy I Don’t Think I Want To Know, which adds further proof to Kellylee’s musical diversity. There’s even some reggae thrown into Let’s Call A Truce Tonight and Rapunzel impresses with a mixture of Spanish and French folk.

Finally there are more traditional jazz songs with How Can You Get Along Without Me? or Enough, which explores jazz in the vicinity of soul music.

With these different influences and styles it may seem that Kellylee tries everything not to get pigeonholed and this album may lack coherence.


Quite the contrary.


It’s her distinctive voice and her personal lyrics that make this a well-rounded album. To sum it up, Fight Or Flight? is an exceptional and musically diverse debut album.


Tracklisting of Fight Or Flight?: 1. What About Me?/ 2. Lead Me Closer/ 3. Hooked/ 4. I Don’t Want You To Love Me/ 5. Fight Or Flight? (Help Me, Help Me)/ 6. I Don’t Want To Know/ 7. Let’s Call A Truce Tonight/ 8. Rapunzel/ 9. How Can You Get Along Without Me?/ 10. Enough/ 11. Who Knows/ 12.


What About Me (Bonus Track) | released May 2006 by Enliven! Media


For more infos visit kellyleeevans.com.


Binsau broadcasts and blogs at Jazz - Not - Jazz


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