It’s true. I’m one of those girls. One of those “Regina” fans. In recent years, I’ve discovered that I prefer my pop with paint splattered on it. I prefer the sort of pop song that didn’t hang out with the cool girls in school, but spent the entire lunch hour by the art block. The sort that was on first-name basis with all the library ladies. The sort that shopped in op-shops before “vintage” clothing became hip. The sort of music that Russian-born, New York singer/songwriter Regina Spektor carves out of marble.
I first fell under Regina’s spell when an artsy housemate of mine played me “Apres Moi”. The dark, Russian piano chords and the multi-lingual lyrics ignited a fire inside. Her storyteller voice gave me chills. It reminded me of childhood, of dreaming about exotic lands, of the little red Baboushka doll my Russian neighbours gave me.
She’s brilliant at writing melody. Her lyrics take your head and spin it around on a carousel. Her voice is deliciously thick and luscious and loaded with soul like a thousand-year old tree. The arrangements of her songs forever fascinate.
To my excitement, Regina’s just released the first single from her upcoming album, called “All The Rowboats”. The verdict? On first listen, I felt like she’d plucked me out of my office chair at lightning speed and dropped me into a European art gallery. On second listen, I felt like she’d plucked me out of my office chair at lightning speed and dropped me into a European art gallery. On seventh listen, I felt...well, you get the idea. I love it!
It’s got the trademark Regina piano quavers, the Russian-esque melodies, but it’s the percussion that grabs your breath. From an unexpected beat-box/drumbeat that wakes up the start of the song - to layers of funky drums and beats and bells - it’s familiar and yet musically shocking.
At first, I couldn’t quite grasp where the melody was going or which bit was the “chorus”. But of course, the brilliance of Regina is that she manages to write incredibly catchy, intelligent songs that don’t follow standard songwriting structures. (And yet, they kinda do). How on earth does she do that?
“All the Rowboats” tells the story of those poor oil paintings in museums; the rowboats and the captains that can’t escape because “It’s their own fault for being timeless / There’s a price to pay and a consequence”. Not to mention the violins who are in “glass coffins / They keep coughing / They’ve forgotten how to sing / La la la la la”.
Do your imagination a favour. Give Regina a spin!