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Review: Regina Spektor’s 6th album doesn’t leave listeners in ‘cheap seats’

Intertwining a mix of genres from anti-folk to indie rock, pop and bits of French, Russian singer-songwriter Regina Spektor gets summer listeners within earshot of thought-provoking memories and images in her sixth album, “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats.”

“Small Town Moon” opens the album with Spektor’s calm voice cast over gentle piano tunes. What starts as a peaceful combination turns into an upbeat tempo prompted by the sound of symbols and a guitar.

The song is a nice precursor to the unexpectedness of the rest of the album, which jumps between happy pop songs, such as “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas),” and mystical, edgy songs like “Open,” which midway through Spektor breaks into a lyrical gasping for air that sounded more like gagging.

“Don’t Leave Me” had a playful feel with its French lyrics “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” which translates in English to the song’s title.

The song begins with instrumentals similar to that of a Jack in the Box winding up and ends with what reminds me of the song “Under the Sea” in “The Little Mermaid” because of the added saxophone and trombone. I felt like I was soaking in the sounds of a parade, watching from the cheap seats on a street curb.

“Ballad of a Politician” humored me most with its lyrics “Shake it, shake it baby / Shake your ass out in that street / You’re gonna make us scream someday / You’re gonna make us weak.” Singing about watching a politician campaign, Spektor did so in a devising sort of tone, which was quite the opposite of happier tracks on the album such as “Patron Saint” and “The Party.”

Closing with lullaby-like track “Jessica,” Spektor sings, “Jessica, wake up / It’s February again / We must get older / So wake up.”

I can’t put my finger on what Spektor was getting at with this one, but it was a soothing song to end the album, almost as though Spektor was waking me up from the whirlwind of daydreams she put me in through the rest of the album.

For an artist to be so versatile with her instrumentals and lyrics, gags aside, it would be a cheap shot to say Spektor’s “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats” doesn’t have at least one track that can appeal to everyone.

Grade: A-

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