Elizaveta on the 10th Anniversary of Her Overlooked Pop Masterpiece “Beatrix Runs” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Elizaveta on the 10th Anniversary of Her Overlooked Pop Masterpiece “Beatrix Runs”

The Album First Came Out on January 24, 2012

Jan 24, 2022
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“On one hand, I’m a bit of a contradiction—in me reside basically two, three, or four different artists,” Russian-American pianist/singer/songwriter Elizaveta Khripounova explains. “I think that maybe what makes me a bit of a weird artist also is that at heart and in essence, I was always a composer, rather than a performer. So, for me, it was always about writing songs.”

Kicking off a rather strong year in music, Khripounova—billing herself mononymously as Elizaveta—made her phenomenal major label debut with Beatrix Runs on January 24, 2012. Khripounova’s expert compositional skills and classically-trained operatic vocals adorn the album with an artful elegance, her melodies cinematic, intimate in their irresistible warmth, each track a tale of love gained or longing from afar. On Beatrix Runs, we enter a realm of sheer beguilement.

“All the songs on the album were written in the previous year or so,” Khripounova remarks of its conception. “They were triggered by a major breakup and life change. I am a true believer that the best art comes when you are—or feel—‘exposed’ to the world, and your ‘inner’ tissues are ‘raw,’ so to speak. Then, emotional honesty prevails, and it becomes more art than craft.”

“My favorite records that I’ve helped to make, they sound the same to me now as they did the day that we finished them,” reflects Grammy winning producer Greg Wells, known for his acclaimed work with artists such as Taylor Swift, Kid Cudi, and Adele. “When I listen to Beatrix Runs, to every one of the songs, to me it sounds like we finished it yesterday. It sounds as fresh, it sounds as vital as it did when we were making it. It doesn’t sound dated to me at all. It sounds alive, and that’s a real testament to [Khripounova’s] songwriting.”

“Dreamer,” which opens the album, sees Khripounova’s vocals take wing, ascending high into the golden autumn she so gracefully conjures in a balmy rush. Pale flowers and grassy fantasies in advance of those long forestine strolls arise from within, Khripounova using her voice and its accompanying wall of backing harmonies to their fullest. Subsequently, the soulful “Meant” adds a certain edge, an ever-deepening shadow blossoming beneath its sleek surface, while standouts “Nightflyers” and the cosmic “Orion,” the latter of which finds its ethereal strength through an invigorating stomp-and-clap electro beat, are celebrations of Khripounova’s masterfully-disciplined voice and songwriting abilities.

“I was just starting a brand new relationship, and it was very passionate, and everything moved very quickly,” Khripounova says of the atmospheric “Armies of Your Heart.” “The song itself reflects this uncertainty and attraction, but also carries within it the seeds of destruction. Because, if you listen to the lyrics, it’s actually not a happy song.” She pauses, before adding, “[My songs] are either cathartic or they can be somewhat prescient.”

An ode to “heartbreak and trying to keep in touch with someone who’s far away,” as Khripounova explains, the jazzy “Snow in Venice” may stand as the album’s finest cut. The world conjured here is vividly seasonal, Wells’ lavish production creating a vast canvas, with arranger Joel McNeely drizzling his lush strings across Khripounova’s romantic vision, painted in shades of love and sorrow. Elsewhere, fan favorite “Odi et Amo” sees Khripounova using her operatic abilities to their fullest amidst a stunning orchestral sweep of nocturnal beauty, while the pleading “Victory” takes a subtler approach, its melody basked in soft rays of morning light.

In contrast, the album’s title track provides a romantic snapshot of impassioned youth on the run. “I left Moscow, where I was growing up, when I was 16,” Khripounova elaborates, “and went on to travel and do my own thing.” Here, she insists, “Don’t tell me how to live my life/Or tell me how to be alive.” This song in particular most prominently displays the album’s best intentions, speaking to any restless adolescent dreaming of dramatic departure into the great unknown. “Beatrix Runs” proves Khripounova an understated visionary, an able composer with far deeper roots, and a skilled vocalist perfectly capable of integrating yesteryear’s regality into the colorful world of Occupy-era pop.

“I realize it probably wouldn’t be for everyone, because nothing is,” Wells ponders the album’s lack of mainstream attention. “But I feel that there was some immense dropping of the ball somewhere, on the business side of things. Exactly what it was, I don’t know.”

Despite this, he recognizes Khripounova’s extraordinary artistic abilities, failing not to consider the enlightened inimitability of her work, placing a special emphasis on the album in question.

“I think it’s gonna sound good 20, 40, 50 years from now,” Wells concludes. “I’m so proud of her. I’m so proud of her songs. I feel very lucky to have been involved with Beatrix Runs.”

It remains unfortunate that Beatrix Runs, as promising a release as it was, did not receive the widespread acknowledgment of which it was most certainly deserving, although Khripounova remains inspired, sharing further plans to release new music this year. While her later output has been equally solid, with 2014’s Hero EP, 2015’s Messenger, and her recent track “Archangel” having seen her continued creative refinement and expansion, Beatrix Runs stands as a masterpiece unique unto itself. Listen to this exceptional recording and consider exactly who Elizaveta Khripounova is—a gifted singer and impressive composer whose boundless skill and vision have persevered into a new decade. Beatrix Runs is a revelation in modern baroque pop, a melodically potent love spell, still so arresting 10 years on.


[Elizaveta will be performing Beatrix Runs on Twitch tonight at 9 p.m. EST. Find her on Twitch here: www.twitch.tv/elizavetamusic.]

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