[Read our interview with Kandace Springs here]
Serendipity plays a part in everyone’s life and career—there’s barely a musician out there who doesn’t owe a debt to “right time, right place.” For Kandace Springs that moment may have been when the late, great, incomparable Prince clicked on her singing a cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” on YouTube in 2014.
Prince, immediately recognizing her quality, invited Springs to Paisley Park to sing at the party for the 30th Anniversary of Purple Rain’s release. A well-received EP and several mesmerizing TV performances later, Kandace Springs was firmly checked in the “one to watch” box. That label started to come to fruition with her debut album Soul Eyes in 2016. Boasting a startlingly mature voice and a genre-hopping ear for material, it set about fulfilling the undoubted potential that Prince (and others) recognized.
Fast-forward two years and Springs has served up her sophomore album Indigo mainly under the guidance and production of Karriem Riggins. He proves a canny choice to work with as he unsurprisingly weaves a spell of richly organic textures, alongside a willingness to add hints of more insistent digital beats where he sees fit.
Throughout the album though, there is no chance of anything overshadowing the main attraction: Springs’ effortless vocals. Whether it’s a trip into soul territory, a sojourn into pop or a straight up jazz ballad, the crystalline qualities of her voice ring loud and clear with absolute conviction. She is a vocal force to be reckoned with.
The thirteen tracks on offer cover a wider ground than most vocalists’ albums and the majority of them are original pieces, with the occasional cover thrown in for good measure. Whether the world needs another version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a question almost as old as time itself, but it is rendered slightly immaterial as Springs carries it off with such aplomb and with an enormous amount of love for the source material.
Elsewhere she delivers an impressive venture into Sade territory with “Piece Of Me.” Both musically and vocally it goes almost as far as mimicking the inimitable soul star, but again it works because of Springs’ vocal quality and the obvious affection she has for Sade’s oeuvre.
The standout track is the wonderful “Fix Me,” where a muted backbeat allied to melancholy piano lines makes for an impressive piece. Throw in lyrical homages to Prince and you have a heady brew worth investing in. Which is not to say the rest of the album isn’t worth the time. The beauty of the album lies in the slight shifts in style from song to song. They may not be of seismic proportions, but they allow Springs to retain control while still broadening her stylistic horizons.
“6 8,” as it’s short and simple lyric suggests, begins as a slight, sparse piece but with the introduction of the bass it borders on the kind of rumination that Erykah Badu and Georgia Anne Muldrow concoct together. Then there’s “Black Orchid” with its tumbling guitar line, delicate flute and understated drama, while “Unsophisticated” is anything but that. A straight up jazz ballad, it pairs Springs’ stellar vocals to the delectable muted trumpet of Roy Hargrove—a cracking pairing.
Lurking toward the end of the album is a further highlight: “Love Sucks.” Sounding like an Amy Winehouse-esque Bond theme it offers Springs’ fairly brutal self-immolation—cursing her own helplessness in the face of new love: “You play the game so very well / Seems to me it’s a fairy tale / I swear that I’m done / Then love calls and I run / Somebody help me, I can’t save myself.”
The real star of the show here is Springs’ voice—it is a delight at all turns. It soothes to the very core and navigates its way through the stylistic variations that lie scattered across the album. And that is, in itself, another great strength. By shifting slightly from style to style, Springs allows a cohesive character to shine through, and it is a winning and engaging character.
No longer just one to watch, Kandace Springs is now one to rely on.
Notable Tracks: “Black Orchid” | “Breakdown” | “Fix Me” | “Love Sucks”
SEE Kandace Springs on tour | Dates