Do you like power pop divas? The LA music industry is telling us that a sultry lass named Roxanna is the Next Big Thing. Maybe or maybe not, but she certainly has the pipes to carry it off.
Roxanna comes to us from Iran via Toronto and Los Angeles. She fled Iran when she was 11, worked as an RN in Toronto for a few years, and was encouraged to pursue music. Her debut album was produced by Hollywood’s Mark Portmann, who has also logged time with Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, and Christina Aguilera. That pretty much tells you where he’s coming from and, if any doubt lingers, Roxanna counts Olivia Newton-John and Julio Iglesias as among her influences. If you’re thinking big production, dramatic arrangements, and soaring crescendos, you’re spot on. In addition to sessions musicians, the Prague Orchestra adds its swelling strings to the project. For the media blitz preceding the album release, I was sent CD singles of “CloseYour Eyes,” a Portmann/Larry Robbins power ballad, and a throbbing cover of Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello.” Of the two, I liked “Hello” better because Roxanna built the song instead of jumping feet-first into an already over-the-top song.
I confess that this sort of material is not my musical beverage of choice. I tend to find all the one-name pop wonders–Shakira, Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna–to be interchangeable cups of generic pudding. I also find that the line between drama and melodrama is transgressed repeatedly and shamelessly. I like it when singers showcase the song, not pyrotechnics that remind me of how much I dislike American Idol. But I’d be the first to admit that music strikes people in different ways. If pop divas are your thing, you’ll probably like Roxanna. She has a glorious voice and does what she does exceedingly well. And, as I said, she has the chops to live up to the hype. See what you think and post your thoughts. –Rob Weir