Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Extravagance from the Cheap Seats

The music industry is still a mystery to a music enthusiast like me. There are endless questions on why this works and why  that doesn't. Well at least if you stop focusing on  billboard charts and Music countdowns, everything is easily understood. A good song will always be enjoyed in one way or another. So let's get to the meat of this post. A lot of artists don't make it to the mainstream Hot 100 list but they make music worthy of appreciation and listening. So let's take a look at Regina Spektor's 2012 album What we Saw from the Cheap Seats.

Regina Spektor

I am not a very critical music fan in terms of notes, melody and accompaniment but I am very much focused on a song or an album's entire impact when those notes start echoing in my earphones. This album exudes a kind of nostalgia that takes you to a dreamy world; that world that is so new to you yet it feels like you've been there somewhere sometime. The real magic that music does lies in the stories it creates in our minds.

Spektor's talents are in full bloom in this new album. It made me realize that not everything you see  from the "Cheap seats" are cheap at all. I am writing this in the hope of getting people to listen to this kind of music that digs deep in the mind. In the midst of the noisy auto-tune songs (which I have nothing against), I hope you'll give it a chance.

The album opens up with a song titled "Small Town Moon" which opens with a piano accompanied by a soft beat that gradually progresses to a an uproar as the lyrics tells you to be younger than you'll ever be. My favorite part of the song that kept me pressing the replay button is a ticklish line just narrating "baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby". It's ticklish to the heart as it sends smiles down my lips. Listen to it  and you'll understand what I mean.

The whole album makes you feel like you are seated on a theater and watching a musical. Sometimes I feel like a broadway actress is singing and acting nearby as the track "Open" plays in the background. Deep lines as " potentially lovely, perpetually human, suspended in open " adds depth to the already compelling melody and arrangement. The song ends with a soft breath and the background fades to a distant lulllaby of an angel fading in the light. That's how I imagined it. Regina ventures into non-conventional musical styles as she tells a story of strength and vulnerability. Open is a top-class ballad that you must not fail to hear.

Tracks like All the Rowboats adds a visual theatrical feel to the album as it takes you to a museum that slowly comes to life. Spektor uses a style in this song that mimics the firing of a Russian roulette using only her lips. The amount of artistry injected in this album in the aspects of ,lyrical composition, musical arrangement, and vocal performance is almost overwhelming.

As theatrical as it sounds the album didn't fail to inject a vintage feel in its arsenal. The third official single released from the Album titled "How" delivers emotions that takes you back to time. It takes you to an era of World War One as a maiden dressed in mournful black, sings her worries beside a piano. It radiates an emotion of wondering and longing for someone you long to see so badly. Emotions are balanced out with songs that tackles undeniable segments of our society in the album's eighth offering, Ballad of a Politician. It opens ideas that you could not help but agree because it exists. It opens with an agreeable narration "a man inside a room is shaking hands with other men. This is how it happens, a carefully laid out plan". Well, don't get m wrong, I have nothing against politicians.

Firewood, is by far the best song in the album. It it is a song of empowerment to those who are physically week. It empowers the spirit of those who are weakened from illness. It was sung with so much conviction but you can still make out the trace of vulnerability in the singer's voice. the song suddenly makes me want to long for a fireplace and bathe in its warmth. The words of this song are so powerful that I would probably listen to it to survive when the doctor tells me I'm dying. Powerful words are carefully carved in a touching melody, "the heart beats on three, just like the waltz and no one can stop you from dancing. Rise from your cold hospital bed and tell you you're not dying. Everyone knows you're going to live, so you might as well start trying." At the end of the song it justifies its point "Everyone knows it's going to hurt, but at least we get hurt trying." Feel free to hit the play button below.

The other songs adds matter to the album's already rich artistry. Oh Marcello is a fun track that places Regina in character with the album. You'll find the diversity of her voice is limitless in this track. The album ends with a country-feel song Jessica. It fools you at first that it's a happy song, then you slowly figure out that the lyric "Jessica please wake up, it's February again, it's time to grow older" tells you that the character in the song has not moved on from  loved one's death, so every February she begs her to wake up and grow older. The change of emotions that you'll feel while listening to this song is amazing.

By far, the album is doing great. The only thing that disappointed me is it was short and appeared unfinished. Nevertheless these tracks I recommend will surely change the way you define literary value in Music. So get a rest from the Rihanna dominated charts and give this album chance.


  1. I really hope someone listened to your advice and gave this album a chance. I've been listening to Regina Spektor for years, and now that I'm working in a shop with non-stop "top hits" on the radio, I'm growing sick of the same thing repeating constantly. Not that it's all bad, there are great gems in the "pop hits", but... they can't be compared to something like this. They can't capture what you find in Firewood, Samson, On The Radio, or any of Regina's other songs. Ignoring her would be tragic.

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment and I totally agree with you. If only I was richer I would personally hand her a Grammy. There are things that you'd get from the mainstream's surface, but the heavy and exquisite ones lie hidden at the bottom.