Music Review: Home, Before and After

by Regina SpektorWARNER RECORDS
reviewed by John Malkin
Home before and after Regina Spektor

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Regina Spektor's songs have always been quirky, insightful tales that mix the mundane with the marvelous.

“Ghost of Corporate Future” from her 2004 album Soviet Kitsch follows a businessman on his way to work on the subway, culminating in the insight, “The world is everlasting / it’s coming and it’s going.”

Home, Before and After is Spektor’s eighth studio album and comes six years after her last, Remember Us to Life. Lyrics on the new album continue to reflect the yin and yang of life’s joys and hardships. On “What Might Have Been” she sings, “Sickness and flowers go together / Bombing and shelters go together / Laughing and hurting go together.”

These songs are nuanced poems with dynamic characters, provocative juxtapositions, playful shifts, and surprises. On “Up the Mountain,” Spektor sounds like Suzanne Vega meets Laurie Anderson meets Anne Clark singing about the perils of progress and our obsessive quest for answers. The music itself becomes a response when the song literally slows down and Spektor imparts the inevitable endgame: “In the answer there’s another / And another and another.”

Spektor’s narrative is humanist and feminist. Some songs on Home, Before and After bluntly challenge domination culture including “SugarMan” and “One Man’s Prayer,” where the character sings, “I just want some girl beneath my feet / To tell me I’m her king / And then beg me for a ring / And I want her to be afraid of me.” Even here, Spektor returns to a higher spiritual plane; “But you can’t plan love / Love’s from above.”

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