So let’s just get the obvious out of the way
first: Roxi Copland has got a gorgeous set of
pipes. Her voice is big, sultry and rich. “Pretty
Lies” is an album created specifically to showcase
Copland’s talents in just about the most unencumbered
way possible, and it’s a daring choice. The
sparse instrumentals make for a clean, classy
album, but one that doesn’t feature a ton of
variety. While it mostly works — Copland could
sing the phone book a capella, and it would
hold your interest at least through “H” — some
listeners may still relegate the album to the
“background music” stack because of its almost
mundane uniformity. But Copland’s confidence
is admirable. If you’re going to pump out an
album that’s just you and a baby grand, you’re
counting on your voice to do all the heavy lifting.
And Copland’s is clearly up to the task. CV
(Roxi Copland plays the Temple Theater on Friday,
June 1. See The Sound for concert details.)
‘What We Saw From the Cheap Seats’
“What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” is Regina
Spektor’s first studio release in three years.
Vocally, the 32-year-old hasn’t lost a step
from her “Soviet Kitsch/Begin to Hope” heyday.
She remains an acrobat, capable of some pretty
astounding feats of vocal dexterity. Spektor
often feels more like a performance artist than
a straight-up singer, with her work evoking
a vibe that’s more modern-art than traditional
album. Her willingness to take her work in unconventional
directions (see: 2006’s “Fidelity,” and its
glottal stops) is her hallmark. Sometimes this
willingness to invent falls flat — “Oh Marcello”
is a two-and-a-half-minute clunker consisting
largely of Spektor making random noises. But
more often than not, Spektor’s unharnessed creativity
works, and the payoff is beautiful and moving.
“Open,” for example, is a reflective ballad
about longing that grows increasingly claustrophobic,
reaching a desperate, gasping crescendo before
breaking through to an expansive, merciful climax.
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