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Album Review: Regina Spektor’s Home, before & after

By Ramiro Bustamante Torres, July 7 2022

Despite a pandemic, pregnancy and having half her accompanying musicians in another part of the globe, Regina Spektor has released her newest album, Home, before & after. The Russian-American artist has brought her eighth album filled with a new sound and some unreleased demos — driving in the title with music from the before and the after. She has a special skill to create stories that can be very personal or sound very silly, but you’re pulled in regardless. 

Spektor released four singles with accompanying lyric videos before the album release — “Becoming All Alone,” “Up The Mountain,” “Loveology” and “One Man’s Prayer.”  Each one of these singles sums up the Regina Spektor experience. 

“Becoming All Alone,” “Raindrops” and “Loveology” were unreleased demos that previously only could be heard through performances and recordings of said performances. As a long-time fan, I cannot express the excitement I had when I read the title “Loveology” appear on the tracklist. The day it was released, I had to immediately listen to it regardless of what I had going on at the moment — I plugged in my earphones and let myself be overcome by the song. While I had the excitement of having an official version, after years of listening to performance recordings, there was a sort of dissonance listening to the official recording. Admittedly, the recording was not a complete surprise as she previously performed “Loveology” with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2018, making the instrumentation slightly different. Still, lyrical changes have remained with the studio recording and more recent performances since then. A new addition to the instrumentation on the album version that I had initially disliked was the drums, which felt like a slap to the face from the small coffee-shop-vibe the live performances had. There will always be a special place in my heart for the unofficial version, but after a few listens I have come around and forgiven the changes and even appreciate how Spektor has changed the song into something new. 

“Up The Mountain” reveals her experimental side like in previous songs such as “Machine” and “Small Bill$,” to reference a few. This song is full of repetition and strings screaming with her in the chorus as she sings, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry.” The urgency that comes with this song, makes it feel as if there is something to beware of. Another song in the album that also follows this trend is “One Man’s Prayer” where she keeps a more lighthearted tune with a serious story behind it. Both these songs are her anti-folk style coming out. 

One song that caught my attention was “Spacetime Fairytale.” In its eight minutes and 46 seconds of glory, Spektor had created a feature film in my mind that I have yet to comprehend, but I believe it’s become one of my favourite songs from the album. This song along with “Coin” and “What Might Have Been” really bring out some of the emotional sides of Spektor, so take your time when listening to them. 

The album ends perfectly with “Through a Door” which brings back the theme of the title of the album, Home, before & after, in the lyrics referencing home over and over again. For those that loved her albums Far and What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, I believe you will enjoy this album. And for those who have been waiting years to see some of the unreleased music get an official recording, Spektor has granted your wish. 

Spektor is on tour now in mostly US locations and one Canadian city, Toronto. A few of the shows will include her playing with well-known artist, Norah Jones. While it is exciting to see her touring again, it would be nice to see more Canadian cities on the list as she has come to Edmonton and Montréal before. Hopefully, Calgary can be one of her stops next time. 

Spektor has also announced the re-release of her first album, titled 11:11, in celebration of its 20th anniversary. This will be the first time there are physical copies available since 2001 starting August 22, 2022. It will have the original tracklist along with Papa’s Bootlegs which includes another set of unreleased songs. 

To know more about tour dates, see music videos and more, please visit Regina Spektor’s website here.

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