Tuesday, August 28, 2012

#38: Regina Spektor - Far (2009)

This is the album that started it all. I’m known to set highly unrealistic goals – I do it all the time while my friends and family watch me crash and burn. Almost exactly a year ago I reviewed this album, anticipating doing a weekly album review. I got as far as week one. I thought about rewriting the review, but instead I’ve settled on just reposting it. Here it is, in its entirety:

So recently I went on vacation. We had a house right on the beach and it was an entire week of nothingness. Most people brought crosswords, books, and games to pass the time. All I brought was my headphones and my nifty new iPod.

I was pretty excited, a whole week on the beach and my entire music catalog to choose from. However, I spent my entire vacation listening to Regina Spektor. Nothing but staring at the waves and listening to her voice. Far, is probably my favorite of her albums and it's definitely the 'poppiest'.

As a musician I listen to music like a thief looks for something valuable. I believe that all musicians are, to a certain degree, plagiarists and thieves... But that's another topic.

Regina Spektor has taught me the value of being different, the value of doing what you love despite the backlash. I've read some reviews of her music that are less than favorable, however, it's the "imperfections and inconsistencies" that make the music so beautiful to me.

While her music is amazing, her voice is phenomenal. She makes me want to finish my album, 'Keep Fishin'' and get back into the studio. I want to experiment.

Stand out tracks:
Blue Lips:
Such beautiful strings... throughout the album the use of strings is extremely tasteful. The chorus is such a huge contrast to the rest of the song and what absolutely brings this song together. Such a simple concept...

Folding Chair:
My favorite track on this album. "Come and open up your folding chair next to me. My feet are buried in the sand, and there's a breeze..." This song takes me back to the beach, such a great, upbeat feel to it. I think it's Regina at her best. It's commercially "acceptable" for parts of it - then back to her wheelhouse - showing off what defines her.

The bridge of a song (to me) is supposed to be completely different from the rest of the album - but still has to fit into the rest. This is the bridge of the album for me. I'm always drawn to these songs on albums. This song is completely different from the rest of the album, yet is not so different that it can't fit right between 'Folding Chair' and 'Laughing With'. After returning from my vacation - this song inspired me to write the bridge to my album.

Two Birds:
I love the imagery. She picks a theme to represent a relationship and she sticks with it. Throughout the song you learn more about this relationship than you thought you would considering it's upbeat demeanor. Quite possibly, my favorite aspect of Regina's music has to be that when she repeats herself it's actually more entertaining than the first time.

Dance Anthem of the 80s:
The simplicity. Words can not express how much I am dialed into this song. It's the little things that change in her voice that keep you listening and in the present moment. Usually, listening to music I'm listening to all the parts, with this song - it's hard to listen to anything but Regina. Again, beautiful contrast, great use of repetition, and extremely catchy.

Had I not been on the beach this would be my favorite song on the album. Let me just start off by saying that no artist that I listen to would write a song about finding a wallet and returning it to Blockbuster. It's a breath of fresh air to listen to something so specific (See: "local bar" lyric from The Script's 'For the First Time'). It's a beautiful story with captivating lyrics, vocals, and piano. When she says, "blue rubber band" I get goosebumps. Is that lame? I don't care. It's such a simple thing and yet the way she sets it up is remarkable.

Overall, the album is worth a listen. I'm a huge, huge fan. It grabbed me on the first listen and I'm having issues putting it down. I understand, however, that not everyone will be drawn to her as I am. Due to the nature of Regina's music it's tough to find a radio-ready single. However, for any fan of music, this is well worth the listen.

Tomorrow's album: Ray Charles' The Genius of Ray Charles.

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