Artist of the Week: Regina Spektor

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After a long break, this week I’m talking about Russian/New York piano goddess, and one of my favourite musicians right now, Regina Spektor. Regina is known for her amazing voice and quirky pop songs, as well as her adeptness with the piano. Regina was born in Soviet Russia in the 1980s, when the regime was at its worst, especially for Regina’s family who are Jewish. There she was exposed to classical music as well as rock bands like the Beatles and Queen by her parents. She was learning piano there for years and was so serious about it her family considered staying. When she was about 9, her family moved state-side and eventually settled on New York City. There Regina learned piano until she was 17 and quickly became part of the local music scene.

Her most recent album What We Saw From The Cheap Seats plays like many of her albums, a mix of beautiful and/or quirky songs with powerful vocals and intriguing arrangements.  Many of the other songs on this album are amazing but I thought these stood out the most to a casual listener. “Small Town Moon” opens the album even though it sounds it should be the closing song of a movie, with it’s sentimental sounding verse about leaving home that builds to a happy, clap along chorus. “Oh Marcello” is one of her quirkier songs, with the sweeping piano lines and vocalized percussion. “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” is a fairly typical but enjoyable Spektor song, with her trademark octave jumps and a unexpected trumpet solo, it’s one of the more celebratory songs on the album. “All The Rowboats” is one of the darker but more intricate songs on the album, with more of her vocal percussion and Russian inspired chord changes it could easily score many films. “Open” comes across sad but beautiful, as though from a dying persons last thoughts and turns creepy from the death gasps she lets out halfway through the song. “How” is by far my favourite song on the album, the sad piano line seems to play with Regina’s vocals trading off when one is needed to add effect. Her octave jumps come back for sweet oo’s in each verse. But the standout moments of this song come every chorus, when the piano builds clearly towards the next section and Regina’s vocal’s explode into passionate yells of desire that never break key, and still give me shivers, especially when she builds with the piano towards the last chorus.

Here’s “How”:

This week I’ll cover some of her other work from her early work like Soviet Kitsch to recent work like Far.

Between a move and a long wait to regain internet access I’ve been a bit sloppy at getting back to this, but I should keep up with it now, sorry to anyone who looks forward to reading these each week.

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