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Boulton’s latest full of catchy hooks, happy grooves

Randi Boulton’s in a really good place — if there’s any doubt, check out her new album.

There’s nary a downer song on Randi With an ‘I’, the second CD the local singer has recorded with Calgary producer Russell Broom.

Even the track Angel, written about her brother who has multiple sclerosis, ends on an optimistic note, reflecting her sibling’s positive attitude and recent improvements in his health.

“There are no sad songs. ... This album is more rock-y, upbeat and bluesy than the last one. There are even some country crossover songs, which is kind of cool,” said Boulton.

She admitted the easy-going vibe sprung from the fact she enjoyed this recording process more than the creation of her last 2012 album, Sometimes Life, which was also shaped by Jann Arden’s producer, Broom.

It helped that Boulton didn’t have as many financial pressures this time around, since she recently won a recording grant from Calgary station Rawlco Radio 97.7. “I could take the time to write and to just hang around with my band,” she recalled.

What developed is a “relaxed” CD with lots of catchy hooks and a happy groove.

“I wanted something that my friends could plug into the CD players in their car and listen to as they drive around ... so far, it’s gotten rave reviews from my friends and I’m happy with the result,” said the singer.

Boulton is having a CD release party for Randi With an ‘I’ on Friday, June 6. Her fans are bound to recognize at least one of the new songs she intends to perform live at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.

The tune Karma is getting repeat air-play on The River 100.7fm, after resounding strongly with Vinnie Taylor, the station’s morning drive guy, said Boulton. “I assumed they’d only play it once and then push it under the rug, but sometimes it’s on three times a day.” A locally-made video for Karma is also showing online.

Funnily enough, the breezy tune about “what goes around comes around” almost ended up not being recorded by Boulton. “I had it in mind for someone else,” added the singer, who intended to sell the song to a rising young pop artist. Luckily, friends heard her sing Karma and convinced Boulton to stick the tune on her new album.

“They said, ‘You need to own it, Randi, it’s your song!’ ” she recalled with a laugh.

Upside Down is a blues-rock tune performed in the vein of Amanda Marshall or Bonnie Raitt. “I got to rasp it up a bit,” said Boulton, who added the lyrics are about having a positive connection with somebody. “They’re living their life and you’re living your life, but every time they come around, it turns your frown upside down.”

She and Broom didn’t automatically agree on every song selection for the album. For instance, Broom didn’t care for Please Come Home, an upbeat tune about longing, on first listen, but it’s since become a favourite with Boulton’s friends. “Russell has since come around on that one,” she said.

“But you know ... recording wouldn’t have been a lot of fun if we agreed on everything, all the time. Sometimes you’ve got to butt heads a little!”

Boulton has been singing all her life — especially since winning a duet in a talent show with her mom when she was 12. After triumphing in a songwriting contest at 14, Boulton was chosen to play for Showcase ’98 in Edmonton.

Ironically, the singer now doesn’t really like contests “because if you don’t win it makes you feel like you aren’t any good.”

But she was buoyed at being among the top 16 finalists across Canada in a CBC Searchlight Contest for Canada’s Best New Artist a couple of years ago.

While Boulton has enjoyed living among supportive friends and relations in the Red Deer area, she’s beginning to think of doing more touring — or maybe even living elsewhere for a while in order to grow as an artist. This won’t happen overnight, however, since she lives with her boyfriend and is effectively a step-mom to his child. “There are some obligations. It’s harder to just pick up and go,” she admitted.

This summer, fans can catch Boulton headlining at the Canada Day festival at Bower Ponds, and again at the Westerner Days fair in July.

These engagements present more chances for her share her music. “My dreams are on this album,” said the singer. “It’s about my journey so far, and about me living out my dreams.”

Tickets for her 7 p.m. CD release party at the Red Deer College Arts Centre are $42.35 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

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