I am maneuvering down the highway, threading past ubiquitous orange construction cones, dodging Pocono weekend traffic, and listening for the first time to the album The Ann Street Session by local singer/songwriter Regina Sayles. I hear her voice explaining, “I was stuck in Jersey traffic one day and thought I’d write a song in the car,” A few taps on her guitar initiates the tempo, and her folk song kicks in with a rock rhythm: “Seven a.m. comes early. Driving down this highway again….”
But local singer-songwriter Regina Sayles is recording a song in my heart, as my body keeps time to the throb of her guitar. Regina is a singer/songwriter with a punch of pop with a twist of country and a dash of blues. Her lyrics are intimate, soul-searching, open hearted. She is the kind of musician whose songs transport me to a retro coffee house or to a grassy concert slope on a summer afternoon.
Regina Sayles steps into the spotlight throughout the Pocono area: from Peppe’s to Trackside Station, Sarah Street Grill, Flood’s, or the Deerhead. Transported from Ohio via New York City and New Jersey, she a “perfect fit” in this area. She says, “My surroundings here are quiet, and I can be self-aware.”
“When you come to hear me, expect to hear a little of every genre, from the 60s to the present,” says Regina. “I play to the crowd.” Her parents hooked her on folk rock, raising her against a musical backdrop of such legends as Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Carole King. “When I was 11 years old, my parents took me to my first concert. It was the Eagles,” Regina reflects. Thus, her repertoire is a vast catalog of American hits, fueling Regina’s own style.
Regina’s own songs are litanies of her introspections and observations. Her song “Shakespeare” launched from her high school experience of paying a friend (in Wendy’s burgers) to coach her in deciphering Shakespeare. Ironically, Regina went on to become a theater major at East Stroudsburg University, where she was cast in Shakespeare’s Mid-Summer’s Night Dream. Her song “Better With Your Love” was inspired by her meeting a cancer survivor and her friend, who had shaved her own head in support of the struggle. The survivor told Regina that the lyrics from her album It’s Home had been “a bright light in a dark time.” Regina does not know the women’s names; nor do they know that “Better With Your Love” on her second album, The Ann Street Session, is a tribute to them.
Regina loves to tell the stories of her songs, and as a one-woman audience devoting my spirit to her music and my attention to the road, I am loving every measure of her dreamy reflections, her high-powered anthems, and her playful turns-of-phrase. In a few more plays, I’ll be singing right along.
By Karen Tetor