Home, before and after album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Home, before and after

Regina Spektor

“Oh, incurable humanist you are,” Regina Spektor sang with a mixture of irony and earnestness, on her single “Loveology,” leading up to her latest album on Warner Records, Home, before and after. Irony because she has her own spiritual leanings, opening the album with a bold number about going to the bar with God. “And he didn’t have to pay / because God is God / and God is revered.” But even in that song is a kernel of her compassion for humanity, when she asks her divine companion, “Why doesn’t it get better with time? / I’m becoming all alone again / Stay, stay, stay.”

But this is no surprise for Regina Spektor, who has been singing unabashed humanist bangers since she appeared on the scene in 2004 with Soviet Kitsch, with her classical piano, anti-folk balladry. That’s the thing about Regina’s career, and this album in particular. She is just so darn consistent. Even, apparently, in the face of people who think maybe she loves and believes in people too much. But people have put her in the place that she is now, a revered star who’s feelings may only be trumped by her own reverence for people.

That’s the charm of her music: she is the every man. Like when she hears a woman “Through A Door,” “Say that she hopes she goes first / Couldn’t listen anymore / And my heart went out to her.” Almost anyone with a heartbeat can relate to feeling that way towards others once, or probably many times, in their lives. We all feel what Regina feels. She just has the gift of song. A classical training as a pianist and an almost childlike love for language.

Much of the album is her having fun with syllables in her mouth, as she’s been known to do before, like on her hit song, “Better.” Repeating lines on this album like, “Gotta get in there, gotta get in there” or “Sugar daddy, sugar daddy, sugar daddy.” Riffing on the “ologies” of life in “Loveology.” While her creativity contains an innocence and an eternal playfulness, her song’s themes and melodies betray an adult woman who is concerned about the state of the world and the human heart.

Themes like loneliness, romantic love, war and money, and more. One of the more piercing songs on the album, “What Might’ve Been,” puts it in simple but deep poetry. “Sickness and flowers go together / Bombing and shelters go together / Laughing and hurting go together / Finding and keeping go together.” She seems acutely aware that the things that she is singing about are happening in the world, and that, in a way, she is just a mirror reflecting it all back to us.

But the reason why she has risen to the top like cream is her combination of simplicity and complexity, heartbreak and belief, and ultimately, her amazing way with sounds and words. It is an album with all hit-worthy songs on it, and something, like her Begin To Hope album, that I think people will be playing and replaying for years. “Hits” isn’t exactly the right term. “Good songs,” I’d say. This is an album filled with good songs.

Order Home, before and after by Regina Spektor HERE


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