Regina Spektor has a large gay following, but she doesn’t attract the campy type that you’d expect. Pop stars and dance goddesses often steal the attention of dedicated LGBT fans off the bat, but Spektor’s mojo works in other ways. What’s attractive about the indie/anti-folk songstress is her lyrical wisdom and upright honesty. She doesn’t have pyrotechnics or flashy hooks in her chorus. What this woman has is a skill for telling a lovely story and using colorful assets to make them even prettier.
In new What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, Spektor’s piano, voice and drum combination is just as it has always been: very simple but also breathtakingly pleasant.
One song that is just fun to hear is “Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)”. The song is lovely and happy, celebratory for the sake of celebratory. Spektor is definitely in love with something in this song. Her cheerful and happy-go-lucky is contagious. Her lyrics don’t end in periods, they end in exclamation points: “And in the gardens I get lost/that is, unless I’m getting found/And if you are the ghost of New York City/Won’t you stick around?/Ne me quitte pas!” There’s no way to be in a bad mood after hearing this song.
Listeners can decipher the moment where Regina Spektor imagines a moment and turns it into poetry for the song. The magic is audible. “Small Town Moon” leads off the album with a sound a la “Scarecrow & Fungus” circa 2001, but with a “take a chill pill” sort of carefree attitude.
This laid-back vibe translates to an ultimate feeling of contentment to be shared. This album is an album for the lover of love, the admirer of romance, for the starving artist and the thriving worker. It’s also one for the hopeless romantic and one for the sorrowing.
With such simple production, broken down to the piano, emotion-heavy vocals and the occasional percussion instrument, every detail counts. This makes it down to the combination of word and melody to tell the story. Spektor’s piano lines, however simplistic or intricate, do a conducting of their own in the songs. “All The Rowboats,” for example, is imaginative and whimsical but is only given its dark edge by the hint in the lowly, ominous sound beneath the singer’s fingertips.
It becomes a bit too much in the incredibly descriptive “Open.” There’s a ridiculous verse where the singer gulps for air to emphasize the feeling of suffocation. It’s interesting but surely not pleasant to listen to it. Don’t hesitate to skip over it.
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is nothing special from the singer, who’s been at it since 2001’s 11:11. But in the best way, this work is a continuation of Regina Spektor’s discography. New material is the goods that all we can ask for. At times it stretches to become even more heart-filled and emotionally connected than in the singer’s past, which is a signal of growth and personal exploration for the artist, another two perks we are delighted to hear. So if the continuation is all you needed, enjoy this poetic gold and let it have a place on the soundtrack for June.