Album Review - Splinters & Candy

The Calgary-based singer Joanna Borromeo has been developing a reputation across the border and now she’s ready to flourish in the United States and beyond. After turning heads with her Through the Dark EP in 2009, she began to envision a full-length album. The talented soul singer and pianist spent nearly a decade working with top names in the Canadian music scene including Toronto’s Juno-winning vocalist Divine Brown and New Brunswicker David Myles. Over the years she gathered ideas and songs and set to work on Kaleidoscope, which is available now. Since this album was a larger project than her EP, Borromeo brought in producers/engineers Spencer Cheyne and Craig Newnes to co-produce the record with her. Their experience helped Borromeo sharpen her approach while letting her vision take center stage.

Kaleidoscope will grab your attention from start to finish. “Move Mountains” announces the record with Borromeo’s dynamic voice, funky bass, a tight horn section and heavy rhodes. “No One Like You” and “Outside” contrast with slow, organic grooves that develop into beautiful arrangements. Joanna Borromeo’s attention to detail is evident in her terrific horn and string arrangements which can be soft and subtle or tough and gritty. “Your Shoes” hits with all the punch of classic soul sides while “Even If” has a mysterious flavor with a haunting rhodes, piano combination that gives way to a powerful chorus. “For Me” features the irresistibly funky approach of this band that gets firing on all cylinders with a tune reminiscent of Incognito’s classic acid jazz sound. “Train Ride” is a slice of heartache which crescendo’s into one of Borromeo’s most moving vocal performances. “Good Times in Love” has a gospel feel with inspirational piano that leads into a fine string and horn arrangement which closes the record. Or does it? The final treat “Wide-eyed and in Your Arms” will take you by surprise the way a bonus track should. Crackling vinyl noise grows into a pulsing electronic mix of piano, bass and ambient guitar with a chugging beat.

One listen to Kaleidoscope and you will be hooked. This is an impressive album from a young songwriter who is already crafting an original sound. Not only can Joanna sing with the best of them, she is accomplished on piano and rhodes and knows how to arrange the band to great effect. She celebrates the release of her new record with a West Coast tour through California and Nevada starting April 12th. Check out her tour dates and listen to an album preview to get a taste of the record. Don’t miss Joanna Borromeo’s solo version of “Move Mountains” below and pick up Kaleidoscope at your favorite record store or bandcamp.

Joanna Borromeo