Since I have traveled to Russia twice thus far in my life, I love to indulge in the cultural rarities the country does not tend to share with the rest of the world. The Russian-native now gone New Yorker Regina Spektor structurally holds this backbone for the country, and I was elated to find out she was releasing an album, Far, in June 2009.
As a songwriter, Spektor has produced five albums in eight years, the last being Begin to Hope in 2006. Her style is an endless scale of surprise, ranging from strictly piano accompaniment to hip-hop/pop tunes throughout each of her albums. Far truly grasps the nature of Spektor’s past, highlighting her exquisite taste in the classical piano combined with her mezzo-soprano airy voice.
True fans of Spektor’s other albums might be disappointed during their first listen of Far; many songs on the album have similar melodic musical qualities, and tend to run together. Though Far was advertised as a more commercial piece, the lyrics were the album’s most moving aspect, and hit true to heart. From America’s approach to religious deities to the simplicity of children playing in a Jewish community, Spektor links the missing chain of what is lacking in the cultural unity of our nation.
Spektor uses mathematics in the most popular Far song “The Calculation” to relate to her love life. She uses the lyrics “So we made our own computer out of macaroni pieces/And it did our thinking while we lived our lives” to express the normalcy humans strive to encompass when figuring out relationships. Spektor uses the color blue in “Blue Lips” to attend to human emotion in funerals and death, and touch on the basis of life with "Adam and Eve."
“Laughing With” was the most moving song on Far for me. The cathartic reaction to “Laughing With”, a song essentially covering the topic of God’s existence through our everyday speech, is similar to “Blue Lips” in its severity and desire to elicit the consumer’s thought. The lyrics alter from the everyday jokes people make about God in parties, to how they view “him” when someone is dying in their life. It brings a new thought about Spektor, whether she is a believer or not, and also a thought to how humans process God culturally, able to laugh at “him” in times of jubilation and believe in him in tragic times. “Laughing With” is a song for those who are questioning, or simply trying to connect with a higher being, and have trouble facing the facts alone.
Other themes that Spektor carries out throughout Far include songs relating to the appearance of a smile and the care quality of relationships.
Personally, anyone who likes singer-songwriter music that cares about the worries of a middle age woman would find a great buy in Far. Fans of an band who is more artistic than a simple spit-out artist, such as Modest Mouse, will obsess over Spektor’s new tunes. Culturally, anthropologists should study Spektor for her bright and farfetched knowledge on the ways of our society, and how it will affect the future. Truly, anyone struggling with any emotional issue in their lives will appreciate Far, and will be able to hold onto it for future hard times.