Reina del Cid Singer-songwriter
Faced with the question of influences, REINA DEL CID cites literary rather than musical heroes.
She commands a flexibility of language reminiscent less of Regina Spektor or Ingrid Michaelson, artists she is often compared to, but more of Virginia Woolf or Sylvia Plath. Yet there is a Newtonian balance of forces in Reina del Cid’s band: for every droll phrase or inventive image pushing the music toward the realm of the cerebral, there is a corresponding musical contribution from the richly talented Toni Lindgren. The young guitarist is adept at orchestrating and fleshing out the skeletons of del Cid’s songs into an engaging brand of pop rock, equal parts stratified and accessible. These lyrical and musical forces have never combined more compellingly than in the band’s sophomore album, The Cooling.
Recorded at the historic Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, The Cooling showcases the dark side to Reina del Cid. Over lilting, swelling strings in the title track she explores what “life” might be like in the hours and days after one has died: “And they said / hell would be fire and smoke / but in the end / it’s the cooling that scares you the most.” From the frenetic palimpsest of Lindgren’s tapping guitar in the opening track to the stripped down solo acoustic “Morse Code,” the terrain of The Cooling is anything but uniform, and yet it holds up as a cohesive work of discovery, maturation, and growth for the songwriter and her band.
In 2012, Reina del Cid began a weekly residency at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in downtown St. Paul where she played with her band every week for nearly two years. It is in such locales—dimly lit by candles, astir with the clinking of wine glasses—that artists often shed their cocoons. Del Cid, a naturally introverted bookworm, used this regular stage to lay down the blueprints for what would become her characteristic self-effacing stage banter. Flash forward two years to 2015’s The Cooling: the band is freshly emerged from the pressure cooker of more than 300 shows over two years both in their hometown and on national tours—tighter, bolder, and more sophisticated in style and form. Del Cid has blossomed into an authentic storyteller, a kaleidoscope of onstage charm. It is the kind of metamorphosis one might expect from all those nights of experimentation in front of live audiences.
Reina del Cid is no longer the singer songwriter she was five years ago, shyly posting songs to the Internet from a college dorm. As the new album exhibits, she is the frontwoman of a band that knows its music and performs it with the passion that comes from having stretched boundaries, transformed together, and infused each song with the magic of a live show.