Kandace Springs - Indigo (Advance Review)

Kandace Springs
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Kandace Springs - Indigo

Be true to yourself. Kandace Springs said that she got that good advice from two important legendary musicians and major influences on her life: One was a father, Scat Springs, who has carved out a reputation as a sought after backing vocalist and highly regarded band leader and soul singer in a town best known for county music. The patriarch of the Springs family, who is recovering from a stroke suffered in 2017, is a soul music legend in Nashville. Of course, you can’t be an artist in Music City and not be a little bit rock and country as well, and the Scat Springs set list, which runs at least a couple of hundred songs deep, includes some country and rock numbers.

Kandace Springs - Indigo

Be true to yourself. Kandace Springs said that she got that good advice from two important legendary musicians and major influences on her life: One was a father, Scat Springs, who has carved out a reputation as a sought after backing vocalist and highly regarded band leader and soul singer in a town best known for county music. The patriarch of the Springs family, who is recovering from a stroke suffered in 2017, is a soul music legend in Nashville. Of course, you can’t be an artist in Music City and not be a little bit rock and country as well, and the Scat Springs set list, which runs at least a couple of hundred songs deep, includes some country and rock numbers.

Springs also got the same advice Prince, who connected with Springs after hearing a recording of her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” His Royal Badness was impressive enough to invite Springs to Paisley Park to perform at events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of the Purple Rain album. Prince became a friend and advisor, and the advice to be true to herself came as Springs worked on what would be her highly regarded debut album, Soul Eyes.

Unfortunately, Soul Eyes dropped after Prince died in April 2016, but those words from Scat Spring and Prince continue to influence Spring’s work on Indigo, her latest recording. The artist resisted pressure to follow trends that often result in music being overproduced, and include production techniques of modern hip-hop influenced R&B.

What listeners hear on Indigo, Springs’ new release on the Blue Note label, is what they heard on Soul Eyes and her 2014 self-titled EP, and that is an artist who honed a sound that organic, nuanced and sparse while also possessing a great deal of richness. Springs possesses a sultry voice that shifts easily between the sophisticated phrasing of a jazz singer, the emotional honesty of a soul singer and the home spun story telling of a country singer.

Intimacy is Springs’ strong suit as a singer, and she brings that quality to percussive numbers such as “Don’t Need the Real Thing” and tunes such as “Love Sucks,” a cut that merges torchy lounge singing with an instrumental arrangement that calls to mind 1960s era girl groups, complete with achy breaky lyrics about the brutal nature of love.

Springs saves one of Indigo’s best moments for the record’s end, in the form of a sweet keyboard and voice duet with her father titled “Simple Things.” The story behind this track is touching because of what is says about the father that Springs clearly adores. The stroke left Scat Springs unable to sing. However, his daughter found his vocals from a recording of “Simple Things” from an unreleased album that the two cut a decade ago. She took his vocals from that recording and included them on the version of “Simple Things” included on Indigo.

Growing up in a house with a musician as a parent meant that Springs grew up with jazz and R&B from both genres’ golden age. She got fed a steady diet of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and the like, and the artist continues her trend of including music from that era on her recordings. Indigo includes covers of “People Makes the World Go Round,” and a version of “The First Time that I Ever Saw Your Face” that displays Springs’ talent on the keys. Still, Springs is at her best on the originals where she fuses her gifts as a songwriter (she cowrote nearly all of the originals) and vocalist, such as “Fix Me,” a modern take on the age-old story of person with a jones that can only be satisfied by a certain someone. “Fix Me” also includes a lyrical homage to her musical mentor Prince.

I enjoy how Springs remains true to her artistic vision even when using digital drums and other non-analog technology. This is best illustrated on “Piece of Me,” a track where the percussion adds a New Orleans second line shuffle that plays off against a twangy, country infused guitar and Springs’ rich and sultry jazz infused vocal.

Springs recalls always having time for cars in her life, and vehicles play prominent roles in music videos such as “West Coast” and “Don’t Need the Real Thing.” She recalls receiving a Matchbox car from her father and a Barbie doll from a mother. The Barbie got tossed. Springs still has the Matchbox, and she holds on to her dream of attending automotive school. That fallback may have to wait, however. This music thing just might work out. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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