Roxanna's Exotica

Bruce Von Stiers


Personal experience can do a lot to help an artist. Especially in the area of songwriting. Heartbreak and life happenings make for good material when writing a song. Living and loving, or having lost love, can also be a driving force for an excellent vocal performance. Someone who has taken all of those things and made a fantastic album is the Toronto, Canada based singer / songwriter Roxanna. She has just released her debut album titled Exotica.

Exotica is a mix of pop and Spanish influenced songs. There are thirteen songs on the album, most of which Roxanna co-wrote. The album was produced by Mark Portmann, who's previous work included albums by Barbra Streisand and Michael Buble. The album is being released in the U.S. by RED Distribution.

Besides producing the album, Mark Portmann played piano, the keys and did the song arrangements. Paul Bushnell did the bass, Aaron Sterling was on drums and percussion was handled by Raphael Padilla. Ramon Stagnaro, Jason McGuire and Tim Pierce shared duties on guitar. Leyla Hoyle did backing vocals and the strings were done by the Prague Orchestra. Jose Cortes added some backing vocals as well. Other musicians on the album are Greg Bissonette, Tom Starhele, Dave Levita and a very special guest, Chris Botti.

Beginning the album is a lost love ballad called Only You. Mellow vocals are complemented by Spanish sounding background music, complete with handclaps, great acoustic guitar and nice backing vocals. This was a song that Julio Iglesias co-wrote and made a hit with.

Next up is Close Your Eyes. It is a wonderful song, with uplifting lyrics and fantastic vocals. I think that this should be the signature song from the album. The song was co-written by Lindy Robbins, who has had stars like Selena Gomez also record her music.

Some of the songs on the album have a definite Spanish styling to them. One such song is Unfor-gotten. The background music has a lot of guitar and has a light toe-tapping tempo. That provides a nice placeholder for terrific, sometimes breathy vocals. Roxanna co-wrote the song, which is based on the true story of her being left at the altar.

The title track, Exotica, finds itself as the fourth item on the album. Sultry at times, melodic at others, the song is both about love and lust. It is another song with a strong Spanish influence.

I've always thought that Lionel Ritchie's song Hello was a beautiful, yet haunting ballad. Roxanna takes a turn at covering this great song. Only Roxanna's version is slightly less haunting and more light and breezy. This is probably the best cover I've heard of the song as Roxanna makes it her own. Besides terrific vocals, there is great guitar and a fantastic trumpet accompaniment by Chris Botti.

The sixth song on the album is El Amor. The vocals are sung in Spanish. It has great, aching vocals and terrific guitar and other Spanish music. This is another Julio Iglesias song that he wrote and had a hit with.

Here With Me is a love song with both great vocals and great trumpet. There is also a nice string orchestral sound backing Roxanna's vocals.

Fresh is a song that is a kind of pop influenced love song with Spanish laced background music.

My Best Friend (Miko) is a gentle song with lilting vocals

Sometimes an artist will take a popular song, and with an almost completely different arrangement, make it an equally great song. Kelly Sweet did it with her rendition of Aerosmith's Dream On. Now, here, Roxanna has done it with another iconic song. This one is a terrific soft and gentle, semi jazz rendition of the classic Hollies song The Air That I Breathe.

Today has a fantastic acoustic Spanish guitar intro. The vocals by Roxanna begin as slow and haunting, then transition into a moderate pace.

Loved is another love song with a mix of jazz and pop. There is some nice light sax playing in the background.

The closing song on the album is Beautiful Rose. I hate to keep using the word beautiful to describe some of the songs on this album. But this song is indeed very beautiful with fantastic vocals and is a great way to end the album.

Exotica is full of passion and vivid emotions. Roxanna shares her loss of love, gaining new ones and a lot of life experiences in a great vocal album.

Exotica is available on iTunes and

To learn more, visit the official site for Roxanna at or visit her on Facebook at

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© 2014 Bruce E Von Stiers