Regina Spektor has come a long way since her 2001 self-released debut “11:11,” which was exclusively sold at shows she played at venues in and around New York’s East Village. And while this album has become the holy grail of records for her fans, a search through eBay provides no help, her latest “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats” is a highlight in an already impressive repertoire.
The album’s first single “All the Rowboats” has all the makings of a classic Regina Spektor hit as she combines lyrics which compare works of art as prisoners condemned to life, with beat-box style drum beats, and signature crashing piano notes. She has always had her own personal style when it comes to her presentation of the words and music she carefully crafts, and every track on the newest album shines as she becomes more comfortable with the niche she has carved for herself in the world of singer-songwriters. The album opens with the excellent “Small Town Moon” which finds Spektor singing about leaving everyone and everything behind to find oneself, while struggling with the idea of getting older and running out of time. These two main themes have been present throughout the songwriters career but only now does it feel as though there is a certain acceptance to the ebb and flow of life. This idea is very evident in the closing track “Jessica,” where Regina sings “Jessica, wake up/It’s February again/We must get older/So wake up.” All 11 songs on the album touch on the fragility and beauty of life effortlessly and with a sense of purpose.
What I saw from the cheap seats, when Regina was in town to promote the new album last month, was a performer who has total command of the stage with her new material. “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats” contains some of her finest work to date and I am already placing the album in my tops picks of the year for 2012.