" There may be sadness here, but that sadness is offset by a resilient spirit and an inspirational drive. "
Northern Sky Magazine
With an interesting backstory, including her career as an Ottawa law enforcement officer, the Ontario-based singer songwriter Kae Shelby returns to her first love, writing and performing quality songs. After serving a period as one half of the duo DanahKae with musical partner Danah-Lee Krieger, Kae goes solo with the release of her debut album MUSIC AND MOTORCYCLES, the title inspired by the optimistic road song My High, My Way.
The album shimmers with soulful rock ballads, including the highly radio friendly Waiting for When and the bluesy Through the Reckless, a song influenced by the relationship between Kae and her own father, which is both tender and highly emotive at the same time. There’s a subtle confidence ingrained in the eight predominantly self penned songs, with a couple of covers, Melissa Etheridge’s Late September Dogs and Brad Paisley’s When I Get Where I’m Going, both of which dovetail neatly between Kae’s originals. With North Easton on guitar, producer Anders Drerup on additional guitar, as well as sharing backing vocal duties with Kelly Prescott, the album maintains an intimate, uncluttered feel.
There may be sadness here, but that sadness is offset by a resilient spirit and an inspirational drive.
" It's an inspirational story, and an equally inspirational album "
Great Dark Wonder
I listen to many fabulous releases every week as part of what I do, and sometimes an album that comes through the door just smacks me around the head, “Music and Motorcycles” did just that for me, it’s the new release by Kae Shelby who is a singer-songwriter based in Ottawa, originally from Sudbury, Ontario. Music and motorcycles are the mainstay of Kae’s life, hence the title of the album, a blend of southern rock infused Canadiana roots, I was blown away by an artist, that until this point, I had no idea existed, I listened to the disc over and over again and each time I did my favourite track would change, it is that good. I was so impressed by it that I arranged to meet Kae to chat about her background and the making of the album, there are some deep and meaningful messages contained within some of her original tracks, of which there are six, and the two covers she has recorded are there for very special reasons, what unfolded was an amazing insight into her journey and healing process after first losing her mother and more recently her brother, the songs were Kae’s way of dealing with her loss, and ultimately her healing process, but importantly the songs have huge uplifting appeal and are relatable on many levels to everyone who listens.
Passion is the first word that came to mind when I heard the first few lines from the anthemic “Here I am,” a statement of where Kae Shelby now finds herself after a career in law enforcement, first in the military and then in the civilian police force, her passion has always been music but her family advised a solid and reliable career which she pursued, she now finds herself on a musical path having left the service and has poured her heart and soul into music and this recording.
With a formidable young producer by the name of Anders Drerup of Row Row Records, an additional song crafted with Ottawa singer-songwriter North Easton, and also a contribution by the amazing Kelly Prescott on “Line In The Sand” you’ll get an idea of the quality that has been captured. Standout tracks are the aforementioned “Here I Am,” along with “Waiting For When” and “My High, My Way,” but that could all change each time you listen.
One track that deserves special mention is an amazing cover of a Brad Paisley song called “When I Get Where I’m Going.” The track was included on the recording only after it was sent by mistake to engineer Steve Foley, who mixed the tracks down and lent an ear to some of the production, whereupon Kae was persuaded to keep the song on the final mix. It’s a very moving tribute to her brother. If you are going to attempt a cover on a debut release you need to make sure you nail it… Kae doesn’t just do that, she completely knocks it out of the park and I am so glad she decided to keep it in there.
Sometimes, if you don’t know an artist, it can be a hit or a miss as to whether you are going to like the music, with “Music and Motorcycles.” It’s most certainly a huge hit of discovery; I am still finding things that draw my ear each time I listen, it’s my constant companion on road trips, I’m even considering buying a motorcycle so I can feel the wind through my hair as I let the tracks transport me down the road to where I’m going.
Without the journey that she has been on we would never have had the chance to hear what Kae Shelby is capable of, she has turned a corner in her life and the path she is now on is a bright one, it’s an inspirational story, and an equally inspirational album.
" Music & Motorcycles is an album about spirit rather than soul, one that sets both singer and listener free "
Motorcycles have a twin role in song, on one hand they are the symbol of rebellion the vehicle of choice for hitting the open road, sunglasses on, wind in the hair and a journey to be embarked on. On the other side of the coin the fatality rate of motorcycle riding partners is pretty much on a par with being the younger, prettier sister or walking across the fens when your boyfriend is shooting swans.
Kae Shelby's "Music And Motorcycles" draws on both sides of that ying and yang. Music and motorcycles is an album that speaks in metaphor accompanied a country blues, country rock soundtrack. Shelby suffered losing both her mother and brother in relatively short succession and this record is something of a redemption, driven, or ridden if you prefer, by Kae Shelby's emotionally charged vocal.
One of the things I like about the album is that it's an album about choices taken. You could choose to wallow in self-pity and head off down the road to oblivion or you can simply take the choice to do what's right for you and head out on the journey with that wind blowing in your hair.
"Music & Motorcycles" is an album about spirit rather than soul, one that sets both singer and listener free and if it has a weakness, it's arguably too short, it sort of hangs out there, but maybe that's not a bad thing.