Review: Kae Shelby, “Music and Motorcycles”

Kae Shelby - Music and Motorcycles

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.

An award winning piper, composer and singer / songwriter from Edinburgh, Scotland now based in Ontario, Canada, Stevie is the founder of Blues and Roots Radio, a multi award winning media platform established in 2012, based just outside of Toronto, with a hub in Melbourne, Australia. He has been recognized in 2014 and 2017 by the Mississauga Board Of Trade and Legislature of Ontario for his work in support and promotion of independent artists across Canada and around the world. He has in the past been honoured to sit on national music award panels.

He is currently head of programming and music director at Blues and Roots Radio where he oversees the running of two online radio channels and reviews the many releases sent to the station for airplay consideration.

He is passionate about the Canadian independent music scene and covers as many live events as time will allow.

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