Kandace Springs – Run Your Race (ENG review)

SRP records - Street date April 5th 2024
Soul Jazz
Kandace Springs – Run Your Race

We already knew it, Kandace Springs possesses one of the most beautiful voices today, navigating through a highly personal style that blends jazz, soul, and blues. I’m not the only one saying this, as The Washington Post declared: “Kandace Springs’ voice is undeniable. She is one of those generational voices; from the first note, you know she’s special.” Accompanied by fantastic musicians on this album: Caylen Bryant on Bass, Camille Gainer on Drums, Carl Sturken, Bob Palmieri on Guitar, Caylen Bryant, Theo Griffin on Cello, Elena Pinderhughes on Flute, Cindy Mizelle, Theo Griffin, Caylen Bryant, Christie Moran on Background Vocals, Jeannette Williams on Cajon, David Mann on String arrangements. The album features 12 original compositions because Kandace is not just an extraordinary performer but also an excellent pianist and composer. She delivers a very personal album here, with a title dedicated to her father, whom she deeply loved and respected, who passed away in 2021. He was a great athlete, hence the title of this album and its song.
The album and its titular song pay homage to her late father, Kenneth “Scat” Springs, a former collegiate track star who later led his own R&B band and sang backup for artists ranging from Garth Brooks to Aretha Franklin. This album also features two covers, including her surprising rendition of “What Was I Made For?”, the theme song from the Barbie movie, nominated for an Oscar. But what truly marks this album is the emotional depth present in each track. One notable title is “Closer To Me,” a classic R&B ballad clearly influenced by Prince, who invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of the Purple Rain album after seeing a video of Kandace performing Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. Thus began a close mentorship between Kandace and the “Purple One,” as she continues to call him. They wrote songs together and shared insights on all things musical.
Family is the central point of her life. If “Run Your Race” is dedicated to her father, here’s what Kandace said about her previous album: “Of course, with an album titled The Women Who Raised Me, we would be remiss not to talk about Springs’ mother, Kelly. While Dad arranged for her to learn from professionals like the Wooten Brothers, Mom actually drove young Kandace to these lessons in the family van while listening to the local easy-listening station. That’s where she first heard Dusty Springfield (Springs’ version of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” is rich in sorrow and drama) and, repeatedly, the aforementioned Bonnie Raitt hit. She learned the latter in her late teens while working at a local hotel.” Run Your Race is the follow-up to her 2020 album, The Women Who Raised Me, which was praised by The New Yorker, Paris-Move, DownBeat, NPR, and many others. The album featured Kandace interpreting music by female vocal icons like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sade, Bonnie Raitt, and Ella Fitzgerald (with Norah Jones joining her on Fitzgerald’s “Angel Eyes”).
In the case of both albums, what makes them successful is evidently the sincerity, a sincerity of the music, lyrics, and her qualities as a great performer, because singing in this manner isn’t something you can fake; it requires an absolute inner richness. In total, this new album features 14 tracks that will resonate in your ears, most likely becoming classics quite quickly, as the secret to a great album is knowing how to package a singer on the basis of acoustic instruments. These are the only albums that endure over time, and this is also generally what makes good blues albums, because the voice is a fragile instrument, and the risk-taking on stage is real when the arrangements are made in such a way as to serve an interpretation of this quality.
Kandace Springs’ artistic consciousness goes much further, extending to recording and mixing, admirable in its simplicity and effective in the best sense of the term, because again, don’t look for big effects; the technique focuses on the essential, purity. Among other highlights of the album are the lush “So Far, So Near,” adorned with strings, and the beautiful and thoughtful “Look,” which Kandace wrote as a teenager. “Chasing Shadows,” which she wrote with Sturken and Rogers, comes alive with a bubbling groove provided by her longtime rhythm section, drummer Camille Gainer-Jones and bassist Caylen Bryant, and with an added edge brought by flutist Elena Pinder-Hughes (Herbie Hancock). She co-wrote the catchy “Pulse” with Gregg Wells (Katy Perry).
To complete the picture regarding this artist, let’s review her history, as it all began for Kandace in 2014, with her first EP for Blue Note Records, produced by Pop & Oak. “Love Got in the Way” was her first music video. Notable collaborations include with Ghostface Killah on his 2014 single “Love Don’t Live Here No More.” She performed on various TV shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Later… with Jools Holland. Prince asked her to perform with him on stage.
In 2016, her album Soul Eyes was released. Continuing to work with Sturken and Rogers, she also attracted producer Larry Klein. On ballads like “Place to Hide” and relaxing mid-tempo songs like “Talk to Me,” she accompanied herself on piano. Collaborating artists included trumpeter Terence Blanchard, guitarists Dean Parks and Jesse Harris, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Her 2018 album, Indigo, was produced by Karriem Riggins. With R&B influences and a trumpet solo by Roy Hargrove.
“Run Your Race,” although very different from her previous albums, is in my view a major work, showcasing Kandace’s ability to reinvent herself without missteps, which is the mark of great artists…

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 17th 2024




Run Your Race
Recorded at The Loft Recording Studios, Bronxville, NY and Yamaha Entertainment Studios Franklin, TN
Recording engineers: Matt Noble, Al Hemberger, and Christian Santangelo
Mixed and Mastered by Matt Noble
Produced by Kandace Springs, Evan Rogers, and Carl Sturken