I have loved Suzanne Vega ever since I was a kid and saw a video for "Luka" on TV. There was something about this porcelain-skinned girl with her pensive eyes and understated voice that caught my attention, even though I was just twelve years old and couldn't speak a word of English. So "Solitude Standing" became the first LP I ever owned, and since then her music has followed me throughout the years.
Her new album, "Songs in Red and Gray" somehow marks a return to the music that first got me listening to her - not that she ever really departed from the folk-tinged but still distinctly urban singer-songwriter material. And hey, this is Suzanne Vega we're talking about, so of course the lyrics play a big part. They deal mostly with the break-up of her marriage - apparently, she stayed at home for a year and just wrote, finally surfacing in the small Green Village clubs where she started out once upon a time, and tried the songs out on her old mates. "If I Were A Weapon" is a great example of stringent song-writing, where she demonstrates how to use a metaphor without coming over all Dido-esque (sorry, Dido is my pet peeve) and who else could devote a whole song to playing solitaire on the computer?
The thing I like so much about Suzanne is that she can get results with small means - she never sounds overblown or melodramatic, and still her songs possess great emotion. It's her warm voice coupled with a cool detached eye that does it: just listen to the quietly perceptive "Last Years' Troubles" or the evocative "Widow's Walk" and you'll see what I mean.
One tip to her fans: do catch her live if you have the chance. I am always a bit wary of concerts, since I'm afraid of being disappointed. (Rickie Lee Jones, for instance, is wonderful on vinyl but the sourest pill EVER on stage.) But Suzanne has a great warmth and generosity about her that translates even into an audience of 200+.