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March 22, 2017

Regina Spektor a “Far” cry from a normal artist

Regina Spektor is flexible.  From writing style to influences, the singer-songwriter and pianist never ceases to surprise listeners with impressive displays of vocal acrobatics and a smile that lights up any stage.

The ever-grinning star is set to perform at Northampton’s Calvin Theater on Monday, Oct. 12 to spread some of her piano-pop cheer throughout the Pioneer Valley.

Opening the occasion is the fellow Brooklyn-based group Jupiter One.  The five-piece band is the sum of their wide array of influences, culminating into a synth-driven whole.  Much like Spektor, the band comes out of New York’s “anti-folk” movement and has recently stumbled upon media success with several of their songs being featured in EA video games.

Born in Moscow and raised in New York, Spektor had the advantage of a diverse musical upbringing. With a music professor for a mother and a father who dabbled in violin, her childhood was constantly full of sound. 

Young Spektor was just as much influenced by Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles as she was classical and Jewish music.

Her first collection of songs, “11:11” was self-released in 2001.  She remained rather unknown outside of Brooklyn for several years, self-releasing another album aptly titled “Songs” in 2002.

Spektor’s third studio album, “Soviet Kitsch” gained quite a bit of momentum for the songstress.  “Us,” one of the more popular tracks, was featured on several commercials and “Somedays” on “CSI: NY.”

In 2006, Spektor released “Begin to Hope,” and her career took a turn for the best.  With the début of the single “Fidelity,” she was no longer an indie darling but a widespread phenomenon. 

“Fidelity” is a tasteful combination of highly melodic piano pop and lyric sensibilities, with Spektor bending her voice to make beautiful intricacies of the simplest words.

The songwriter released the piano driven “Far” earlier this year.  Drawing from both “Soviet Kitsch” and “Begin to Hope,” her latest effort  combines the usual quirky characters and classical influence.

Tracks like “Eet” and “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” exemplify her unusual vocal stylings, featuring Spektor’s take on beat boxing and highly original phrasings.  Her music makes a point of defying genre classification.

Spektor is often associated with the “anti-folk” movement, which embraces a number of styles and artists, all of which verge on the experimental side and draw heavily from the 60s folk movement. 

Some of the more notable artists under this blanket include Devendra Banhart, Kimya Dawson and Dufus, one of Spektor’s favorite live acts. 

Still, Spektor refuses to pigeonhole her music. “I have this fear of getting stuck and doing the same thing over and over again I’m always trying to push the dexterity thing,” said the siren in an interview with WomanRock Magazine.

That being said, the artist makes a point to diversify the subjects of her songs as well. With Spektor, every song is a story. 

In reference to her writing style, she reveals that, “I relate it much more to short stories or little cinema pieces and making up characters rather than songs.”

Spektor’s music even has a conscience.  In 2007, she participated in “Instant Karma,” a compilation of covers by modern artists that went to benefit Darfur.  She also took part in “Songs For Tibet” to support the rights of Tibetan citizens.

Spektor’s songs are instantly recognizable with their classical flare and warm vocals.  Whether she is performing as a heart-wrenching songstress or a whimsical teller of tales, Spektor is always serious about her love of music.   

Calvin Theater is the perfect environment for Spektor to spread her wings and show off some new tunes.

Regina Spektor will be performing at Calvin Theater in Northampton at 8.pm.  Tickets range for $28.50 to $38.50.

Angela Stasiowski can be reached at astasiow@student.umass.edu.

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