Donna Regina

Holding the Mirror for Sophia Loren

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German duo Donna Regina have been working in the milieu of electronic-based pop music since the early '90s, patiently evolving with each release and cutting their own sonic path with thoughtful, highly detailed songs. Singer Regina Janssen's voice has always charmingly evoked a sort of Euro-sophistication that paired well with producer and husband Günther Janssen's mix of technically crafted but melodically lush tracks. 2014's Holding the Mirror for Sophia Loren is the band's twelfth album, but rarely have they sounded so vibrant and captivating. Instrumentally, they employ a blend of textural synths, beats, and acoustic instruments like guitar, piano, and harp, which is not unlike their previous album, 2010's The Decline of Female Happiness. But for the first time in their long, self-contained career, they've allowed another artist to mix the album. The Janssens met electronic musician Michal Jacaszek while on tour in Poland and were impressed enough to hire him both as a co-producer and mixing engineer. The result is a beautifully nuanced album with some added production heft and a subtle mystique. The title track, a tribute to a deceased friend, is easily one of Donna Regina's greatest tracks, with its warmly delivered sentiment and elegant, mysterious chord shifts. Throughout the album's 13 tracks Regina's strong voice is heard in English, French, and Spanish, adding a worldly flair to tracks like "Les Claviers de Couleurs" and "Escúchame." With nearly two decades of recording to their credit, it's worth noting the amount of poise and composure Donna Regina display. Even as their music sounds freshly reinvented, there are themes of wisdom gained and a wistful reflection in their lyrics that could only be achieved by veteran artists. A younger band could not pull off the clever mix of regret and uptempo buoyancy as on the standout "I Know Now." While making music this vital so late in their career is impressive enough, Donna Regina just might have turned in their best record yet.

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