It’s a cold, December night in L.A., but you wouldn’t know it inside Hotel Café, thanks in part to the sunny disposition of L.A. transplant and Nashville darling, Justyna Kelley. Kelley, a rare artist, with music pedigree, is the daughter of singer/songwriter Irene Kelley.

Tonight, Kelley mesmerizes the room with opening songs like “Once in A While” and “ The Taker”, a gentle reflection of the tumultuous journey of love and relationships. By the time she performs a sweet, stripped-down version of “ Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, you can’t help but feel the surge of sing-a-long adrenaline in the room. “Sorry”, a lamenting, lullaby style ballad, muses a lesson in forgiveness and showcases Kelley’s range as an emotional songwriter with serious longevity. Although it wasn’t in her December 1st show, one of my favorite songs on the record is “ Pushover”, a catchy, elevated tune that soars and sends a clear message that this petite songwriter, with California girl looks, is a force to be reckoned with.

Fresh off her select European dates, Kelley’s debut album, Over The Moon, was released earlier this month in the US, and will be available in August 2011 in Europe.  The album, a folk-pop rock gem with smooth melodies and powerful chords, is reminiscent of other transmissible songwriters like early Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and the great Joni Mitchell. The release, produced by Kevin Killen (U2, Shawn Colvin) and David Kershenbaum (Tracy Chapman), features collaborations with Diane Warren, Paul Freeman (Arista), Kyler England of The Rescues (Universal/Republic), among other standouts.

If you’re in Nashville for the holidays, Justyna Kelley performs at The Nolensville Mill Dec 18th, and has future tour dates planned in France, Netherlands and Germany for spring 2011.–Aishah Roberts