Suzanne Vega: Close-Up Vol 1, Love Songs | CD review

(Cooking Vinyl)

Back in the mid-80s, when folk music was in the doldrums, a New York-based acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter was hailed as the scene's new saviour, thanks to her cool, classy songs and often highly personal lyrics. Whether "folk" was the right description for Suzanne Vega is of course debatable, for there were few traditional influences in much of her work, but she deservedly sold millions of albums and notched up hits with Luka and Tom's Diner. Now she has decided to re-record much of her catalogue in new "stripped down versions", with four themed albums that will each include songs from across her career. The first set, Love Songs, includes the 1985 favourites Marlene on the Wall and Small Blue Thing, but if you switch between the original vinyl and the new CD there are not that many differences. She has removed the synthesisers from Lenny Kaye's original production but added electric guitar, while her singing is now a little slower and more confident, but with the same quiet charm. From later in her career there's Songs in Red and Gray, a gently edgy piece about meeting the daughter of a former lover, or the more recent Bound, on love and ageing. If these were new songs this would be one of the albums of the year.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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