CD REVIEW: Roxanna - Exotica
by: Cyrus Rhodes
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Label: Miles High Productions
Genre: Pop, Spanish Pop, Classical Pop, Smooth Jazz, Singer/Songwriter
Sounds Like: Vanessa Williams, Lisa Stansfield, Marta Sanchez, Calia Cruz
Technical Grade: 10/10
Weakness: A Few Winded Songs, More Vocal Risk Taking.
(VANCOUVER, BC) Artists like Roxanna are rare. Normal people from everyday walks of life that have extraordinary talent just below the surface. Coupled with an inspirational spark that sets them of on a path to peruse a lifelong dream.
It was while studying to be a nurse that singer/songwriter Roxanna witnessed first hand the healing power of music. Sitting bedside with a patient suffering from dementia, she sang gently to the elderly woman, who was no longer swallowing. “She looked into my eyes and for the first time, I saw her smile. And she began to eat,” Roxanna says. “The doctors were amazed.” After becoming an RN in Toronto, again, Roxanna sang each night to a young man battling cancer while enduring a regimen of caustic treatment. When he was at last released from the hospital, the man’s father—with tears in his eyes—said to her, “My son is better because of the way you sang to him. There's no doubt about it - this is an Epic release by Roxanna. I Looked at some of the liner notes and was amazed at some of the names: Chris Botti (Trumpet), Gregg Bissonette (Drums), and Mark Portmann (Guitar) just to name a few. The collection is produced by Mark Portmann, who has worked with pop royalty Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, Annie Lennox and Christina Aguilera. He offers, “People want to hear real talent, real voices and real stories—something that changes your life. Roxanna’s music does that. She will give you everything you ask for. Adding another celestial element is accompaniment by both the Prague Orchestra and trumpeter Chris Botti. The CD gently takes to flight with “Only You” a mesmerizing intro piece that serves up methodical musical build against well placed melodies and striking vocal presence from Roxanna. Track 2 “Close Your Eyes” keeps things moving in the right direction with its dynamic groove, mesmerizing classical instrumentation and impressive vocal ambience and harmonies that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Unforgotten” serves up a rock solid rhythm section with impressive feel against a grand slam chorus. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic Vanessa Williams, Lisa Stansfield, Marta Sanchez and Celia Cruz. The music itself is an impressive blend of Classical Singer/Songwriter Pop with Spanish/Caribbean musical flair. All in all it's got a refined Pop aftertaste. Some of this can even be classified as Smooth Jazz , or even Classical or Orchestral Pop.. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Besides the 4 piece standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive guitar, sporadic percussive accents, lush harmonies, horns, trumpet, keyboards, Piano, eloquent orchestral strings, all built upon an impressive rhythmic section. Turning our attention now over to Roxanna – she has voice smooth as silk and showcases a crystal clear Mezzo-Soprano with an impressive falsetto and vibrato. Roxanna has a unique and infectious vocal persona that is both mystifying and somewhat infectious. She has a good seductive look. Her vocal emotions at times can be gripping and captivating. Roxanna and her band handle all the pin drop moments well. and the songwriting provides a lot of musical variety, depth and emotion. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. I can honestly say I was entertained the entire time, with never a dull moment to be found on this CD. My favorite piece are: El Amor, Beautiful Rose, Unforgotten, Exotica, My Best Friend (Miko).
If could say anything to Roxanna right now - it would be to let loose a bit and take a few more vocal risks here and there. Step up to the microphone, find that emotional pocket and take it up a notch when the music calls for it. I really like the voice, the passion and the crystal clear mezzo Soprano from Roxanna but at times it’s fair to say she plays it relatively safe vocally. I also wish I heard more sustained vocal power during the finlike moments of her music. I also wish there was maybe one or two tracks featuring just Roxanna and say a Piano of Guitar. It's in this bare bones musical environment we can really hear what her voice is truly capable of.
From start to finish this latest release from Roxanna entitled Exotica is a consistent, beautiful and powerful catalogue of music. The music is very consistent, well-crafted and extremely entertaining. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The production strokes: writing and playing abilities of this production are rock solid. The classical sounding popish melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom.