Like Tori Amos before her, Regina Spektor left the traditional piano tunes she was taught as a child in favor of improvisation, while retaining her childlike wonder and playfulness. Spektor has always been eclectic, and with this sixth album she continues on that trajectory. Each song seems to start as a quiet prelude, but gets louder, integrating more guitars and percussion (and a horns section on “Don’t Leave Me”).
Spektor leans heavily on a pop sensibility; although her classical piano training shows up throughout, especially in the Chopin-like interlude on “Firewood.” On “How,” she sings “How can I begin again?/How can I try to love someone new?/Someone who isn’t you/How can our love be true?”
Lyrically the album seems to be an intimate letter to a friend, lamenting the loss and deterioration of a relationship. While Spektor continues to develop as an artist and this album is a great listen, it lacks the catchy melodies, quirky characters, and stories of 2009’s Far. (Sire Records)