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Begin to Hope

( 4 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Most folks who are familiar with this New York-based singer and multi-instrumentalist probably got their introduction through her association with the Strokes, a band with which she shares little sonic common ground but plenty of single-minded musical passion. Rather than while away the hours in the garage, Spektor seems like the kind of girl who spends her days looking for a smoky cabaret where the ghosts of Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday hover over the bar -- and on Begin to Hope, she does a pretty swell job of stocking a jukebox ideally suited for such a boîte. Sometimes, as on the jazzy piano ballad "Field Below," she plays things soft and plangent by caressing the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Most folks who are familiar with this New York-based singer and multi-instrumentalist probably got their introduction through her association with the Strokes, a band with which she shares little sonic common ground but plenty of single-minded musical passion. Rather than while away the hours in the garage, Spektor seems like the kind of girl who spends her days looking for a smoky cabaret where the ghosts of Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday hover over the bar -- and on Begin to Hope, she does a pretty swell job of stocking a jukebox ideally suited for such a boîte. Sometimes, as on the jazzy piano ballad "Field Below," she plays things soft and plangent by caressing the listener with the duskier side of her vocal range. That aspect of her voice -- a torch song mastery -- is showcased just as well on "Season," which augments her spare ivory tinkling with a swelling orchestral arrangement. Like any good old-fashioned bohemian, the Russian-born singer doesn't shy away from poking around in the sonic and psychic gutter when the mood strikes, and it strikes sharply on tracks like "Better," a knotted blues sure to hit home with Nick Cave aficionados. Every once in a while, Spektor gives in to her flightier side and tries too hard to tweak a simple pop song into an artistic statement. But more often -- as on "Hotel Song," where she flits between scat singing and girl group billing and cooing -- she gets that difficult balance just right.
All Music Guide - Heather Phares
On Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor treads a delicate balance between her anti-folk past and her present home on Sire Records. Though the label re-released Soviet Kitsch in 2004, Begin to Hope is Spektor's first original material for Sire, and it feels more like a major-label debut than Soviet Kitsch ever did. The album's big, glossy production and preponderance of drum machines and keyboards inches Spektor toward territory that isn't exactly mainstream, but is closer to a more conventional adult alternative singer/songwriter sound. Her songwriting mirrors this, too: "Field Below," which finds her wishing for the countryside while living in the city, has a mellow, appealingly rambling vibe that grows from the traditional singer/songwriter roots of Joni and Carole; "Better" takes the breathy, literate, pretty side of Spektor's music and tailors it into a radio-friendly single. "On the Radio" takes it a step further and becomes a smart, funny, and sad meta-single, with lyrics like "We listened to it twice/Because the DJ was asleep" backed by poppy synths and beats. But even though Begin to Hope's first few songs might suggest otherwise, Spektor is much too freewheeling and quirky a talent to stick to the straight and narrow for the entirety. Show tunes, classic soul, the Bible, and the backs of cereal boxes are all inspirations for the album. And whether she quotes the melody from Doris Payne's "Just One Look" and pairs it with lyrics about orca whales on "Hotel Song," or begins the lovely, confessional closing track, "Summer in the City," with the line "summer in the city means cleavage," Spektor uses them in unexpected ways. She also places some truly surreal, heady tracks toward Begin to Hope's end: "Lady" is a torchy number arranged for piano, saxophone, and typewriter, while "20 Years of Snow" is buoyed along by impressionistic keyboards that twinkle and tumble like a just-shaken snow globe. "Apres Moi," one of the album's most impressive tracks, showcases her classical piano training, her Russian heritage, and those biblical influences to ominous, paranoid effect. Leaving the more unique, quintessentially Regina Spektor-esque tracks at the end of Begin to Hope isn't so much a bait-and-switch as is a clever way to lure in and loosen the inhibitions of new fans. The album feels like getting to really know someone: at first, it's polite and a little restrained, but then its real personality, with all of its charming idiosyncrasies, finally reveals itself. [Hardcore Regina fans will want to get the version of Begin to Hope that comes with a bonus CD of tracks from her U.K. EPs and studio versions of songs like "Uh-Merica" and "Dusseldorf."]
Rolling Stone - Jenny Eliscu
1/2 Spektor shows off her gorgeous, fluttery voice, her burgeoning writer chops and her God-given quirks on her second disc.
Boston Globe - Saul Austerlitz
[Spektor] is very much her own delightfully quirky performer. The songs on "Begin to Hope," her second major-label album, after 2004's "Soviet Kitsch," are tough and sharp, emphasizing her surprising delivery.
The Guardian - Caroline Sullivan
There's hardly a moment here that fails to enchant.
Los Angeles Daily News - Rob Lowman
Spektor may take getting used to, but once you do, you'll find she's worth it.

1/2 Spektor shows off her gorgeous, fluttery voice, her burgeoning writer chops and her God-given quirks on her second disc.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2006
  • Label: Sire / London/Rhino
  • UPC: 093624431527
  • Catalog Number: 44315
  • Sales rank: 95,685

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Fidelity (3:47)
  2. 2 Better (3:22)
  3. 3 Samson (3:11)
  4. 4 On the Radio (3:22)
  5. 5 Field Below (5:18)
  6. 6 Hotel Song (3:29)
  7. 7 Après Moi (5:08)
  8. 8 20 Years of Snow (3:31)
  9. 9 That Time (2:39)
  10. 10 Edit (4:53)
  11. 11 Lady (4:45)
  12. 12 Summer in the City (3:50)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Another Town (4:09)
  2. 2 Uh-Merica (3:18)
  3. 3 Baobabs (2:04)
  4. 4 Düsseldorf (3:12)
  5. 5 Music Box (2:06)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Regina Spektor Primary Artist
David Kahne Bass
Shawn Pelton Drums
Nick Valensi Guitar
Technical Credits
Craig Bishop Engineer
David Kahne Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Bob Ludwig Mastering
Regina Spektor Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Christopher Frederick Art Direction, Illustrations
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    My first introduction to Regina Spektor was with her album "Far." I received "Begin to Hope" for Christmas and was pleased to discover that the quality of her earlier work is just as fantastic as her current. I am adding Spektor's music to my collection fervently as the space left by a lack of new Tori Amos albums is beginning to be a burden!

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    Posted November 16, 2008

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    Posted November 8, 2008

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews