On her multi-faceted new album Smile, the sultry singer and songwriter-who penned songs for top pop/R&B artists like Patti Labelle, Chante Moore, Stephanie Mills and Jade before emerging as a solo artist-goes deeper emotionally than ever before. Inspired by the steep challenges and great joys of keeping a long term relationship afloat, the 10-track collection invites fans and new listeners alike to experience compelling moments along the journey-from confusion and darkness to sparks of daylight and the assurance that no matter what, all will somehow work out for the best.
While music has always been a driving creative force in Duboc’s life, she found it to be the best possible therapy during this very difficult time in her life. “While many of the songs such as ‘Elephant,’ ‘Telepathy’ and ‘Nobody Knows’ tell of the struggles I was going through,” she says, “other songs like ‘Gliding,’ ‘Parachute’ and the title track ‘Smile’ chronicle the hope that kept me going through it all. As a relatively new mother, I have found great inspiration from my smiling daughter, and with other things tumbling down before me at times, I found that the songs for the album almost wrote themselves.”
Duboc co-produced Smile (and co-wrote all but one of its songs) with GRAMMY® nominated keyboardist, recording artist, composer and producer Jeff Lorber, who played on her popular 2002 release Duboc and co-wrote the track “I Wanna Love Someone” with her on that album. Lorber invited several of the studio greats who worked on his most recent Jeff Lorber Fusion recording Galaxy to add their jazzy sensibilities and soulful power to the Smile sessions – including drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, electric bassist Jimmy Haslip and guitarist Michael Thompson. Select tracks of Smile feature GRAMMY® nominated bassist Brian Bromberg.
One of the beautiful constants running through Duboc’s entire Gold Note Music discography is longtime friend and legendary flutist Hubert Laws, who adds his whimsical magic to three tracks on Smile: “Telepathy,” “Gliding” and “Parachute.” Duboc says, “Secretly, I have always wanted to scat to one of his solos, and on ‘Telepathy,’ a song about trying to read someone’s mind in order to make the right choices in a relationship, I got the chance to do just that.” Duboc wrote every song with Lorber with the exception of “Behind A Kiss,” which she co-penned with keyboardist Tim Carmon.
Duboc and Lorber recorded most of the tracks live with drums and bass at The Village Recorders in Los Angeles in three days. “Recording my vocals live with the band is important because it captures the spontaneity of our interaction and I find being supported by such a great band really inspiring,” she says. Once the basic tracks were recorded Lorber suggested that Thompson add his unique guitar genius to the production. “The layers and layers of sounds and his amazing attention to detail really took the production to another level,” Duboc adds.
Shortly after Duboc — who had moved from L.A. back to her hometown of Kansas City for several years after the birth of her daughter — returned West in 2010, Lorber contacted her and said he was interested in writing new songs. The singer, recalling the great creative chemistry they had in the early 2000s, was excited to see how they had each evolved since then.
“I love writing melodies to Jeff’s jazzy yet soulful changes,” she says. “I have always been a fan of his innovative style, and I am thrilled to once again put our musical sounds together. When I arrived at Jeff’s he had an idea started and as usual his chords inspired a melody in me right away. We continued to write songs over the next few months. Many of the lyrics were inspired by my reactions to some of the struggles I was going through in my personal relationship at home. The Latin flavored ‘Parachute’ is about my hope that I could trust this person with my life and fly together in a parachute. By the time I wrote ‘Unpredictable,’ I realized that this collection of songs was evolving into my next, very unplanned, but very personal release.”
Lorber comments, “Carol is a wonderful singer and we always had great chemistry writing together in the studio. The thing that I love the most about writing with Carol is that it’s an effortless process. She seems to know exactly what melodies and lyrics to write to bring out the best in my chord progressions. It was an extra treat when Carol decided to go into the studio and work with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles (and on the planet) to bring these songs to life. It was so great to record everything live, which unfortunately is becoming a rare experience these days. Jimmy, Vinnie, Brian, Luis, Eric and all the other musicians and engineers contributed so much to the music. I enjoyed working on the project very much and I hope lots of people get turned on to Carol’s immense talent.”
The title song “Smile” was the last one written by Duboc and Lorber. “The melody came to me the minute I heard the chords,” she says, “but in this case I was struggling with the words. I had begun to think everything was falling apart – but I looked at my daughter playing next to me and her smile inspired this song. I have never before written a song through a stream of tears but I was crying as I wrote and sang this in my studio. I realized that in the end all that matters to me is that she is happy.”