Sasha Papernik – Victory
2012, Sasha Papernik
It was 2011 when I first heard of Sasha Papernik. Her album with Sasha & The Indulgents, Love In A Box was one of the biggest surprises of the year. The classically trained, first-generation Russian-American singer/songwriter showed a depth of musical and human understanding that was breathtaking. A lot has changed in the last two years: Papernik is now billing fully under her own name, and her depth and maturity as a songwriter has grown. Papernik now writes with the confidence of an established star, and her muse seemingly knows no boundaries. Papernik’s latest album, Victory, is an eye opener.Kicking things off with the title track, Papernik uses a pop-noire sound to call out a man who played her. The dark undertones in “Victory” are straight out of Russian musical heritage, and give the song a wonderfully complex musical flavor. “Kiss Me Fast” is an impetuous entreaty written in a 1960’s girl pop sound. It is a memorable tune that will return to your mind at odd moments. “Oy Moroz, Moroz” is a wonderful little blend of blues, rock and folk, with Papernik singing in both Russian and English. Try to keep your foot still, as Papernik and her band work through the incredibly catchy and tight arrangement.
Papernik will delight listeners with “Solitude”, a singer/songwriter piece underwritten by a deliciously sly little tango. It’s just piano and voice this time around, but Papernik leaves the stunning impression of an impresario at her best. “Whispering Tree” is a nice change of pace; a swaying cabaret-pop number with dark undertones that’s simply gorgeous. It’s time to waltz when Papernik launches into the Russian folk song “Tonkaya Ryabina”. You’ll be seduced by the three-step rhythm, and lulled by the utterly beautiful arrangement Papernik has built around it.Papernik shows off a bit of a country flavor on “Polina”, a bit of musical counsel to a friend who has fallen off the marital path. Driven by a pure singer/songwriter pastiche, “Polina” is an enjoyable side trip. “Wrong Side Of Twenty-Five” is the sort of character sketch in song that is among the most difficult to write. Papernik is working out the kinks of the process here, but it is a solid effort and bodes well for the future. She goes Baroque on “Luchina”, a classically-themed pop piece with a pretty melody you’ll want to repeat. “Wildwood Flower” is a catchy little tune that that takes you by surprise. You may not take particular notice of it the first time you hear it, but it quickly grows on you.
“Peter’s Letters” is am ambling and ambitious reminiscence, but is too weighty for its own good. It’s the only song on the album you’ll be tempted to skip, but Papernik is so engaging even here that you’ll stick with her through the tune. Papernik has one more star turn in her, however, as she shows on “Take It As It Comes”. This is pure singer/songwriter material, encompassing styles including country, pop and a touch of Baroque classical. Papernik then bows with the gentle piano-pop of “Tall Grass”, which leaves the listener with an endearing image and sense of peace. It’s a solid closer that’s a bit anti-climactic, but not a bad choice.Sasha Papernik embraces her classical roots on Victory, writing a genre-bending album with distinct pop sensibilities but a master’s sense of melody, harmony and precision. Papernik is also a credibly story-teller, engaging listeners with tales and sketches in song that draw in as they color the musical landscape. Papernik’s voice is a joy to listen to, and she is a consummate performer. Victory is aptly named, and turns out to have been one of the finest releases of 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)Learn more at www.sashatheband.com.