"The faces that I'd seen looked so familiar,
but I forgot them all when I saw the sun."
Regina Spektor's new album, Remember Us to Life, is very pretty, sometimes wounded, and (surprisingly) often delicate. There's a real sweetness to the melodies and her singing, with accompaniment on several songs by tender, classical strings.
One thing I love about Spektor is how she melds different genre influences into a unique, cohesive whole. There are some modern pop touches here, flirting with classical piano and string arrangements, all built into a solid record.
The quirky lyrics and eccentric vocal stylings of her previous work are mostly absent on Remember Us to Life, which is a shame — her confident delivery of quirky material performed in an offbeat manner has been part of the unique pleasure in listening to her — but what's here is good. And there's a vulnerability frequently shown on this album she's only occasionally revealed before.
A new Regina Spektor record is always cause for excitement, and I always buy the deluxe editions of her albums, which come with a few extra songs. It's always worth it to me to do so, and Remember Us to Life is no exception.
"I was fighting with temptation,
but I didn't want to win."
Leonard Cohen released his album You Want It Darker this past Friday. Between his charcoal voice and the instrumentation on it, he achieves a deep, rich, inky sonic quality. This album continues the rich sound of his current period, which started with the international tours he began in 2008 and continued over the next handful of years, and included 2012's Old Ideas and 2014's Popular Problems. But I think You Want It Darker brings this sound to bloom even more fully than those previous performances and recordings.
These are songs I'll need to listen to repeatedly to fully appreciate, but there are a lot of religious references (even for Cohen), soulful reflections on love and sacrifice, and an interesting tangle of emotions. Cohen's poetic lines on You Want It Darker are themselves fairly simple, but added together they make each song a bit more elusive (in a good way).
At 82 years old, Cohen is probably finished touring, but it's inspiring that he's still making music at all, let alone music this rewarding to listen to.
My weekly black and white comic Flesh Machine continues at michaelavolio.com, where I'll post new pages this evening. We're closing in on Flesh Machine's one-year anniversary, and we're about halfway through the story. I've found it gratifying to be able to share this work with you, and I look forward to continuing our cartoonist-reader relationship through the end of Flesh Machine and into other projects.
You can share this newsletter with the buttons underneath the image below, and you can share Flesh Machine with others via the link michaelavolio.com.
And to those of you already supporting my comics work on Patreon: yesterday morning, I posted a few design sketches from that secret project I told you about, and you can expect me to share with you some more design sketches and eventually a few finished pages from that project in the coming weeks.
Thanks for reading!