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Songs In Red and Gray in a truly remarkable CD which contains some incredibly beautiful and enjoyable songs. Suzanne's enviable lyric writing talent again come to the fore, with lines that would not be out of place in a collection of poetry.
Songs such as 'Widow's Walk' and 'Soap and Water' deal with the aftermath of a failed marriage, in a highly orignal and deeply moving way - with lines such as 'heal the cut we call husband and wife' avoiding all of the usual cliches.
'If I Were A Weapon' and 'Last Year's Troubles' demonstrate her ability to make gutsy and meaningful pop music, with catchy choruses paired with some killer lyrics. Critics often over-look the toughness in Suzanne's work and here she again proves that she is no wimp!
A favourite track off the album is 'I'll Never Be Your Maggie May'which could be seen as a reply to the Rod Stewart song. With an instantly memorable melody and lovely production, this song will stay in your head for days!
So I would recommend this CD to anyone who craves intelligent pop music. It has great lyrics, catchy tunes and proves that Suzanne Vega remains one of the most original song-writers around.
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+.
'Songs in Red and Gray' is Suzanne's first album since 'Nine Objects of Desire' in 1996 and represents something of a return to her roots and her strengths. Gone is the playful experimentation of Nine Objects, replaced with a more restrained and subtle production from Rupert Hine and a new sense of emotion from Suzanne's vocal performance.
The theme and tone of this album was effectively set by the unfortunate break up of Suzanne's marriage. It is a tribute to her talent and resilience that she has been able to create such superb music from such personal heartache.
Typically, Suzanne eschews playing the blame game over her personal problems and instead deconstructs her feelings and lays them bare in her songs. The quality of the lyrics is outstanding throughout and the songs 'Penitent' and '(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May' are the equal of anything she has ever created before.
If you are already a fan then there is no doubt that you will enjoy this album. If you particularly enjoy Suzanne's acoustic guitar-driven songs with astute lyrical observations then it is pure heaven!
Thank you Suzanne for over 15 years of listening pleasure!