What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Regina Spektor makes more than one reference to fellow classically trained, distinctly voiced chanteuse/pianist Nina Simone on her sixth album. It's an interesting touchstone for Spektor, whose funny valentine vocals are so often delivered with a cutesy coyness Simone never bothered with. But there's a heft to this album, a sadness more indebted to Simone's soulful gravity than, say, the preciousness of Far. Take the plaintive, frightening "Open" or any of the vodka-soaked Russian songs. Don't worry: Spektor's still a weirdo (see funny noise-ridden "The Party" or "Open"'s melodramatic gasps).