Boris Grebenshikov

Russian Songwriter

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An album from Russia's greatest rock musician is long overdue, and this collection is more than worthwhile. Like some American singer/songwriters, Grebenshikov has found himself coming closer and closer to roots music over the years, and these songs are very much the product of that. Whether putting his mark on the traditional song "My Little Loom" or writing an ode to his changing homeland with "Russian Nirvana," he's masterful. The songs themselves (with lyrics provided in four languages) are gems, the product of mature thought and frequently poetic, although the images, which seem obscure to Westernerners, probably resonate with Russians. But the beauty is best-illustrated by the settings, usually stripped-down, but with just the right touches to set off the voice and words, even if it takes some strange left turns, like the pseudo-'50s arrangement of "Gertruda." Accordion is prevalent, of course, but the oboe that courses through "Nikita of Riazan" gives an aching tone to the song. He's often compared to Dylan and Springsteen, which is unfair; the traditions are utterly different. Only the quality of the writing and performing is comparable -- listen to the gentle "Dubrovsky" and you'll be convinced. Grebenshikov is world class.

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