KANDACE SPRINGS; Run Your Race (SRP Records)

Back in January celebrated soul and jazz chanteuse/keyboardist  and sometime Prince collaborator, KANDACE SPRINGS announced she was putting the finishing touches to a new album. The announcement came via  the release, as a single, of that album’s title track and ‘Run Your Race’ won plenty of plaudits for its gentle, emotional, gospel-tinged sound. Much of the emotion, it seemed, stemmed from the fact that song was a tribute to Kandace’s late father Kenneth “Scatt” Springs. You may know that Mr. Springs fronted his own R&B band and sang backup for everyone from Garth Brooks to Aretha Franklin. However, he sadly passed away in 2021. On release Kandace explained the song’s meaning and title: “Dad was a track star in college. Some of the records he set still haven’t been broken. Due to health reasons, he spent the last two years of his life in a wheelchair, unable to run. Now he’s finally free to run his race.”

The second single from the album was released at the beginning of  March . It was another gentle and emotion-tugging affair – a cover of  Billie Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For’ (which was written for the ‘Barbie’ movie). Kandace made the song uniquely her own giving it a gentle, jazz-tinged shading – quite different to the original.

The full 14 track album wins release this Friday, 5th April and previews reveal that  those  gentle, jazz-tinged shadings are the album’s dominant sonic template. We’re told that it was during the various  pandemic lockdowns that Kandace decided to craft an album in tribute to her father. Thus she put together a set of songs (some new, some she’d had in her locker for a while) that she felt would  do dad proud and celebrate  his life and impact. Kandace envisaged including only original songs but, we’re guessing, the emotional heft of Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For’ just demanded being covered. The set’s other cover is a version of a 1957 song’ ‘Wild Is The Wind’. The song was written by celebrated Hollywood songsmiths, Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington for the movie of the same name and the original version was by Johnny Mathis. It’s another gentle, introspective song with an emotional depth. Little wonder it’s been covered many times by people like George Michael, David Bowie and Nina Simone. Again we’re guessing that it was that  last version that inspired Kandace’s reading.

It’s a heartfelt affair as are the remaining songs. Things like ‘I’m Still Lonely’, ‘My Poor Heart’ , ‘Precious Love’, ‘We’ll Find Away’ and ‘So Far So Near’ all touch on the painful process of letting go while also holding on to those  special yet ordinary  things that make a father/daughter relationship unique. However, they also deliver insights into the highs and lows of any relationship.

The album is made the more coherent by the fact that co-producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers opt to use the same players throughout – Bassist, Caylen Bryant; Drummer, Camille Gainer; Guitarists,  Carl Sturken himself with Bob Palmier; Cellists, Caylen Bryant, Theo Griffin and Flautist Elena Pinderhughes. There’s also a live string section and stellar backing vocalists (including Cindy Mizelle) . The empathy between all the parties is self-evident as they craft an album that’s perfect for late night reverie, reflection and introspection.

(BB) 4/5

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