Zaritza is a classically trained pianist and singer from Russia and took her name from the Russian for “queen”: “Tsarina” or “Tsaritza”, changing it slightly to make it easier on American fans. The name is also an homage to her favorite band, Queen. The singer, songwriter and classical pianist has said that the felt the name honored her Russian classical roots and gave a heavy nod to her love of modern American music.

EDM-fused electro pop seems a funny place for Zaritza to have landed with her debut album, a self-titled endeavor released in August. Between the power rock of Queen and her expertise in Russian classical music – she even gave a TEDx talk on Rachmaninoff last year – some sort of rock/classical fusion seems more likely.

With Zaritza, the once-and-again classical master shows that genre really has little bearing on talent and passion, as all the tracks on this album have some sort of electronic component The overall feel of the album has a light and airy quality while still being firmly indie and stark, sort of like Tori Amos but with more pop cache. All of the tracks are squarely in the realm of electro pop: “That Girl,” is a punchy, synthwave highlight. Others, like “Flashing Lights” and “Burn Into Me” are more rock-inspired while still on the pop edge. Sort of an Evanessence mashup with classical elements as well. With tracks like these, however, one would really never know Zaritza is an accomplished classical pianist or that she also enjoys alt rock.

There are two covers on this album which are really surprising: “Talk Show Host” by Radiohead and Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box.” While these covers give a window into Zaritza’s Western tastes but given Zaritza’s more pop style, they’re quite unexpected. “Talk Show Host” really shines for her here. Thom Yorke is also a classically trained vocalist, so Zaritza is really able to show her vocal chops here, and her re-work of the music shows her as very capable as far as electronica goes when given the right material.

Zaritza’s first release, a dual single in 2014 was almost completely piano-driven, so it’s interesting to see the progression. While she’s a great songwriter and classical talent Zaritza’s voice voice is also perfectly suited to EDM and an a number of styles of rock. In the meantime, Zaritza is a triumph of deep, thoughtful electro pop, rock and classical and a great example of how to marryall these seemingly opposed genres.

Zaritza is out now and available on the artist’s Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Be sure to pay close attention to the Radiohead cover of “Talk Show Host.”

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