Canadian singer-songwriter Roxanna has a rather interesting life story that has, in some ways, transmuted itself into song. She was born in Iran during the war with Iraq, before her family immigrated to Turkey and then, in the late ‘80s, came to live in Toronto. She became a registered nurse and, in 1999, was jilted at the altar by her fiancé. That latter event is evident on her debut album, Exotica, in her song “Unforgotten”, which is about the experience. Roxanna has also worked as a model, so her career path into making music has been one full of twists and turns. Anyhow, Exotica should garner her fans among North America’s Hispanic community as there’s not only a Latin pop flavour to these songs, but some of them are in Spanish. The record has originals along with a few interesting covers — she tackles Julio Iglesias’ “El Amor” as well as an English translated version of his “Como Tú”, which is “Only You” here. She also takes on Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and the Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe”. The remaining tracks are written between Roxanna and various hit-makers, including Edgar Cortazar and Mark Portmann.
Overall, Exotica owes a big debt to the sound of some of the artist’s idols, including Céline Dion, Christina Aguilera and Olivia Newton-John. That should pretty much say it all. If you love those female artists, you’ll adore the soft shoe music of Roxanna. I love the fact that she has a Latin-influenced sound that is worldly and panoramic. The bad news? Well, like Dion, who has a beautiful and talented voice, she smothers her talent for singing with some bland material. However, that said, the jazzy version of “The Air That I Breathe” is interesting, and it’s nice to hear the multicultural fabric of her adopted country making its way into her music. So, basically, if you like soft rock and Latin music, Roxanna will seem to you to be a delightful new talent. Everybody else? Well, you’ll probably want to stay away. It really boils down to whether Roxanna’s genre is your cup of tea, and, truthfully, I’m not personally a fan of this style of music. Still, there are enough interesting aspects and a worldly flavour that might make you say, “Olé!” Roxanna does possess expressive vocal talents, and, given her nursing background, this is music that is healing and soothing. For that, Exotica gets a tentative pass. If James Cameron is looking for a female Canadian vocalist to sing the theme song to his next nautical disaster flick, I have just the artist to fit the bill.