In the office of the dynamic French record label No Format, the first copies of Paris-based Canadian singer-songwriter Mélissa Laveaux's new album, Radyo Siwèl, had just arrived and the charismatic musician was buzzing to see the physical copies of an album that has been a real passion project.

I had headed over on a cloudy January afternoon, jumping on the Metro with her new album helping to distract me from a grumpy winter in Paris. After taking pics for her Insta she sat down in the middle of a busy press day to chat about the album and, let me tell you, it was a treat to meet this talented artist, who's full of straight talking anecdotes and fascinating stories and insights. It was no surprise that Melissa ran over chatting to the previous journalist, because she is such a friendly and sociable personality, one of those dynamic artists whose passion for her projects is as infectious to hear about as the thing being created – the incredible music.

Born in Ottowa to Haitian parents, Mélissa's third album - produced by French outfit A.L.B.E.R.T. (Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Air) - was inspired by her trips to Haiti last year, to trace her ancestry. This album is the result of Mélissa's need to immerse herself in her Creole roots and she was particularly affected by the music of Haitian singer Martha Jean-Claude, who was imprisoned (whilst pregnant) due to the militancy of her songs, eventually fleeing to Cuba in exile.

Mélissa first heard her aged six, and started playing her songs after she got her first guitar; she explained how hearing Martha Jean-Claude ignited her passion for music and offered something new: "I realised songs did not have to sound like American soul music, she had this deep voice." As a child, hearing music from Haiti gave her a connection and inspired her to write: "It was something that came from my parent's country and I thought that was cool. Growing up I really owned listening to her because it was mine and something other children didn't have, they had their dolls and I had this music."

Martha Jean-Claude also provoked Melissa's own innate need to talk about and protest against what she believes is wrong: "The more I looked her up the more I found out she was quite militant. I like that her songs were playful and folkloric but were also songs of resistance."

Last year, fuelled by a need to explore the Haitian culture, she embarked on her first trip to the country for over twenty years. When friends ask her why it took her so long to go back she cites that having moved to Paris, "for music and to play music," she had to pay the high rental and living costs that come with living in a fashionable European city. A tale most millennials can relate to.

When she finally reached Haiti, with only a handful of Creole phrases obtained from her mother's phone calls to family, Mélissa inhaled the culture, visiting the Centre D'art and soaking up traditional Haitian folk and protest songs, and poetry, alongside the rituals and symbolism of Voodoo songcraft. Much of this was used as a form of resistance against the American occupation of Haiti in 1915 - 1934 and she chose to interrogate and utilise the songs of resistance.

Through her music on Radyo Siwèl (plus through conversations both online and in real life) she highlights the struggles of occupied Haiti in the early 20th century, which Mélissa only found out about during these recent voyages. She laughs, “I was almost ashamed not to know it, thanks, Mum and Dad," an example of this singer's unassuming nature; she sweetly accepts praise for her captivating music and effortlessly talks about a multitude of cultural references that she impressively inhales day-to-day, working through her many creative projects.

This project, culminating in Radyo Siwèl, feels like a kind of musical dialogue between different natures and the past, present and future. The album's a celebration of the traditional stories and music that Melissa is so inspired by and passionate about. Music that is not as well known as it should be. "People know Haiti for artists and poets but less so for the songwriters. I wanted to bring that forward."

On returning to Paris, she passionately studied all the materials she collected in Haiti, fashioning her own narrative which is told through her music. The album balances a strength, sincerity and playfulness, with her raspy voice delivering gripping chronicles in Creole, with a fun pop-rock essence, combined with Haitian kompa guitar, calypso (the Trinidadian Drew Gonsalves, from Kobo Town) soca, Cajun flourishes and heady tracks (Angeli-Ko, Simalo, Tolalito, Nibo). If you listen to this album and don't bop and hum along then you need your ears testing.

With Radyo Siwèl, Melissa tackles treachery, sexuality and politics but she is not a stoically serious person at all, as you can hear in the soft buoyancy of this album. Her musical influences and tastes have evolved throughout the years and through laughter she candidly described the impact of music on her life as she grew up, from Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion as a tween to the time when she got her first guitar: "My dad bought me these books from the '80s, so I learned classics and also '80s ballads like Hello by Lionel Richie, so I have a background of cheesy songwriting," she quipped.

With a strong base in top-notch pop creation, Mélissa's passion for ethnomusicology and seeking out music that diverts the mainstream really developed at university, where she had a radio show. "I discovered more music because I forced myself not to listen to American and British music and listen to French-speaking music instead." This musical quest took her ears around the world from West Africa, South America (Keya, Leila Downes), Brazil (in terms of guitar) and when she moved to Paris she started listening to Scandi pop and folk music, as well as enjoying the thriving international music scene in Europe. With such eclectic taste and influences, it is not surprising to see how Mélissa's sound is hard to pin down and feels refreshingly unique.

Here in Paris, she loves the intimate and beautiful venues plus the opportunities in Europe, having “gotten to play with some wicked people” across Europe - she has opened for Fesist in Bordeaux and Bobby Womack in London – and she will be playing her album on March 8th at Les Etoiles in Paris and at The Rich Mix in London on April 13th. She is also planning to head back to play in Haiti this summer, as well as Canada and Germany, amongst other dates, so, luckily, there will be lots of opportunities to hear this stunning album live because Melissa's voice and personality really is at its most hypnotic when experienced live.

It is clear that for Mélissa discovering your roots and remembering your heritage is important. This is expressed through her song Simalo or "the magic goat song", as she playfully calls it because Simaloo is a goat in Voodoo storytelling. Melissa told me the story of this song about a voodoo princess, Celestina, who it's said helped her father, General Simon - a farmer, like Melissa's own grandfather in Haiti - gain presidency through the use of his daughter's magical powers. The story ends with his daughter divorcing her goat spouse and the goat being so heartbroken that he dies and it destroys the powers, leading to her father being overthrown. For Mélissa the song provides a warning: “If you turn your back on traditions for vain and selfish reasons and forget where you come from things will go wrong for you." The whole album forefronts the importance of voodoo in everyday life in Haiti, with references to omens, beliefs, sexuality, resulting in Melissa's own colourful and captivating musical portrait of the country; its beliefs, imagination, difficulties and strength.

Like her mythical and musical heroines, Melissa uses her voice, in her music and her social media, as a way to resist. She recently scribed a post on Insta reacting against Trump calling Haiti a "shithole". She recalls: "I had to say something but I was shaking when I put it out because I've never directly criticised a public power before." Melissa's strong personality and views are part of what makes her music so intelligent and the way her album explores an often painful history as a blithe and accessible piece of modern songwriting is certainly a triumph.

It was impossible to avoid talking to a fellow female 'foreigner' living in Paris, especially one who is so refreshingly open and frank, without hitting upon the recent backlash against the #metoo movement, carried out by some old French actresses and celebrities through a letter in La Monde. She is all too aware of the frustrations of living in a city plagued by pro-life marches and being both shocked and not shocked by what happened in the country she now calls home. She saw the whole thing when stuck in a Canadian airport for two days shocked by what she was reading on her phone: "The lack of respect towards people who have actually survived sexual assault and the idea of having to protect men really jarred with me. That question – 'what about men?' - men will be fine and have been fine for thousands of years." This kind of straight talking is what makes Melissa's voice so captivating, whether she's addressing the past or today's battles.

Mélissa says she was raised not make waves but she also points out that she can't not do it, it's in her nature and she laughs when she jokes about how her sister still often checks whether she's not planning to go to medical school. Melissa's journey seems to have been driven by a creativity and a need to discover and share things. Through her deep talent, she takes traditional forms and brings them into the modern times we live in now. Long may she stay out of medical school because music needs a voice as informed, creative and fresh as hers.