Roxanna’s album, Exotica, is a full-length that takes love and romance seriously. The singer has a strong voice, which she applies to both familiar and unfamiliar songs.
The album opens with “The Air That I Breathe,” one of the most obsessive pop songs of all time. Originally a hit for The Hollies, the song’s chorus declares, “Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe/And to love you.” It’s as though the songwriter has put romantic attraction into scientific terms. Call it National Geographic of the heart. One other cover song is “Hello,” originally written and recorded by Lionel Ritchie. This recording is highlighted by muted flugelhorn, which is woven throughout the track. Ritchie is the perfect artist for Roxanna to cover because – like her – he’s a true romantic at heart. He may have sung the overtly lustful “Brick House” with the Commodores back in the day, but in the 90s, when he was at his commercial peek, Richie was all lovey-dovey, all the time.
You also notice just how positive these songs are. For the most part, Exotica is an album expressing how love conquers all. There are not broken hearts or ‘Oh, how I hate you now!’ songs contained on this recording. Instead, Roxanna expands upon the glories of love.
Sonically, this recording is ballad-heavy and orchestrated. These are the kinds of love songs that get played on soft pop radio stations; the ones where lovers have nighttime dedications sent out over the airwaves to their beloveds. Roxanna worked with producer Mark Portman – who has produced Julio Iglesias, Barbara Streisand, Christiana Aguilera, to name a few – to help create this recording’s lush sound.
One song that stands out from the rest is “My Best Friend,” which rocks gently to an acoustic pop-reggae beat. It tells a story about meeting the kind of person that will be with you for the rest of your life – one that you know is ‘the one,’ upon first sighting. Maybe it happens that way for some, but love at first sight stories are always kind of suspicious. But if it’s happened for you, this song’s especially for you.
Some of these tracks take on a Latin music feel. “Only You,” for instance, is supported by Spanish guitar. “El Amor” is one sung completely in Spanish. These inclusions are made all the more interesting when you realize Roxanna is an Iranian-born artist.
Roxanna likely takes full responsibility for the happily-ever-after vibe of this new album. After all, she co-wrote eight of its thirteen tracks. She’s been quoted as saying, “Enough about bad romance and hate and war. Music should be easy on the ear.” Well, she’s certainly done her part to make ‘easy on the ears’ music.
Ultra romantics are a rare breed in our contemporary cynical society. Roxanna is one of these exceptional romantics. She sings these songs with such sincerity, however, it’s difficult to disbelieve her – she really means these romantic words she vocalizes. If you’re in love, or even if you want to fondly hearken back to a time when you were hopelessly in love, Exotica is for you.