Lynn Cardona is a contemporary jazz and soul artist living in Los Angeles, where she pens unguarded songs about love: the unrequited, the returned and ecstatic, the slow burn of longing and lust.
It’s Cardona’s voice—girlish, dreamily viscous, and reminiscent of Blossom Dearie—that first draws you in. But you soon find yourself saturated in her world, one where nostalgia and desire fill the space like rising floodwaters.
Much of this is due to the poetry that patters through Cardona’s lyrics, tugging you deeper and deeper out to sea. For example, in her new EP, Ophelia, Cardona sings in the titular song, “I’ve said this all before but now I swear it, please dare it, don’t you know how far I’d go for love….” She wrote the song in a single night during which she found herself wanting to end her life after the dissolution of her relationship with a long-time lover. Despite the heaviness of the subject matter, “Ophelia” has a light-hearted feel, conveying the haunting juxtaposition between what’s felt and what’s shown on the outside.
Following the end of her relationship, Cardona moved around the world to Seoul, South Korea, to escape her memories. The other two songs on Ophelia, “A Little Too Late” and “Mother Earth” were written during this period of recovery.
“A Little Too Late” is a tribute to a fleeting but life-changing love affair with a man named Joe, whom she fell for shortly after her breakup and whom she credits as pulling her out of her dark depression. Cardona sings, “In just autumn when the leaves all beg the trees to let them go… Maybe he loved me because he let me go, but it’s a little too late,” about her brave decision to leave Joe behind and travel alone to South Korea in search of healing.
“Mother Earth” explores Cardona’s ambivalent feelings about the idea of becoming a mother. Ultimately, the song celebrates the resilience and nurturing that both Mother Earth and women embody despite the abuses of mankind.
Before her musical career, Cardona grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, shortly after graduating high school. Over the following decade, she cut her teeth performing in the southern city, where she learned from Memphis’ incredible musicians and artists. Eventually, after her stint in South Korea, she made her way to Los Angeles.
Cardona enlisted some of the top talent in Southern California to help her with this project. Produced by guitarist DORI AMARILIO, she’s backed by widely respected pianist and composer JOSH NELSON, who is a recording artist, composer, and educator who has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz. He has recorded for countless albums, films, and T.V. shows, as well as releasing seven CDs as a leader. She first heard Nelson on the radio shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 2012. “He let the music breathe, and he added to it with such grace and elegance,” says Cardona. “I was thrilled that Josh agreed to work with me. He was so incredibly busy, that it took a full year of scheduling and rescheduling until we could nail down a rehearsal and a recording date. He was an absolute dream to work with, and I would wait another year to do it again.”
She’s also backed by bass player DAVE ROBAIRE, who is a professor of Jazz Studies at California State University, Northridge’s prestigious music school and is the Manager of Music at Sam First, one of Los Angeles’s most important venues for creative music. On drums is DAN SCHNELLE, one of the busiest, sought-after musicians in the Los Angeles area. Amarilio brought on board MICHAEL HUNTER to play flugelhorn. Hunter has performed with the likes of Stanley Clarke, Kamasi Washington, and Lenny Kravitz, among many others. And guitarist NOZOMI YAMAGUCHI is a dear friend of Cardona. “He was an integral part of giving this record a sound all its own, since he brings a more soulful rhythmic approach to these songs,” says Cardona.
Her upcoming EP, Secret Crush, reveals Cardona’s sexier side, blending her contemporary jazz style with more pop and soul than her previous work. Secret Crush was produced by GRAMMY award winning producer Sam Barsh, who’s written for and played piano on records by the likes of Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak.
Cardona wears her heart on her sleeve. Her emotions, vulnerable and exposed, flow through her music like a gentle stream. Her voice is sinuous and lyrical, and the musicianship on these three tunes is superb. As Cardona puts it, “I want my music to convey the nuances of the experiences I’ve had. I want listeners to feel that they can relate to me on the deepest level.”