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4.8 out of 5 stars
Close Up Vol. 4, Songs Of Family
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£12.85+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

In Close-Up 4, Suzanne Vega completes her project to re-record all of her album material -- with some extras -- in a pristine acoustic format which makes the most of her increasingly expressive voice and superb guitar playing. Effects are largely absent, orchestration is pared down, and every supporting instrument -- including some superb mandolin -- is allowed to find its own place in what will surely be the definitive collection of the Vega oeuvre.

For me the stand out track on this album is Blood Sings. The song was my favourite on 99.9 F°, and the re-recording is marvellously detailed in its sound, without losing any of the poignant resonance of the original. The reorchestrated Pilgrimage and Tired of Sleeping, both from Days of Open Hand are also highlights -- especially with the sleeve note telling us that Pilgrimage was based on Vega preparing to meet her birth father for the first time.

The song I've listened to the most, though, is Silver Lady, which was the second song she ever wrote, based -- it seems -- on a story she had heard but not remembered as a child. All the elusive yearning of her later songs is present in it, and it sheds new light on the later songs.

If you've already got the other three Close-up albums, then just go out and buy this one. It perfectly completes the set, removing the 80's and 90's film from the production and giving a superb set of intimate, pristine, proximate recordings. If you haven't got any, and are wondering why you would want to buy a set of re-records, then the best I can say is find a preview track on Amazon, or on Vega's website, or anywhere, and listen to it. Nothing will persuade you that this is worth getting like hearing the songs themselves.

Highly anticipated, and warmly recommended.
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on 19 October 2012
This is the best of the Close-Up series (I bought them all) in my view, you know this when you listen to it and are 6 tracks in before you think "hey, are these NEW songs?". It just *FLOWS*. Suzanne has obviously put great thought and care as to the choice of songs (although none from her 1st two albums), and the sequencing.
Her singing is somehow more confident, and with more presence. That's my feeling anyway.
I saw her in concert this last week, and her humility and graciousness shines through... whilst it's impossible to know what makes any artist "tick", here and on the others in the series, we get some insight into how she structures songs across a huge variety of subjects.
Even if you haven't got the other 3 "Close-Up" albums, buy this one. It's wonderful!
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on 9 February 2013
This is one of Suzanne's really good CD's.

I have followed the work of several female guitarist over the year, Bonnie Rait beign another example.

Suzanne plays with an understated ease; which I am sure still took years to perfect. Vocally she doesn't use a fuller range sometimes favoured by others. She tends to be mellow in her presentations and inconcert her description of the songs she is about to sing.

For those out there that have enjoyed her previous work I would recommend it. For those wishing to give this a try, you will not be disappointed.
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on 21 October 2012
I must confess to knowing these songs less well or not at all before buying this reworking of them. An excellent addition to the series. Some of the 'close up' versions of songs on volumes 1-3 are my favourite and exceed the original release, I am sure this will be the smae for many people with the songs on Vol 4.
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on 24 April 2018
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 October 2012
All four of these Close Up albums are really excellent. For me these stripped-down re-workings of her songs shed a new light on many of them and in a lot of cases I prefer them to the originals.

That haunting voice is still wonderful - a little huskier and more breathy perhaps which only adds to the atmosphere of the recording. The principal instrument is her acoustic guitar, played beautifully and often solo but augmented by delicate additions of things like organ and electric lead where appropriate. It takes really good material to shine with such minimal production, and these complex, often quirky songs show what very fine music and lyrics Vega has produced. The whole thing sounds intimate and personal (as was the intention), made more so by being quite close-miked and beautifully recorded. The four volumes are simply excellent throughout with great hits sounding original and fresh, and less well-known songs making you wonder why they are less well-known.

You almost certainly know Suzanne Vega's work if you are considering this, and are perhaps wondering whether you need new versions of songs you already own and love. I wondered the same thing but took a chance on this series and I'm delighted I did. I was worried it might be like those outtakes and demo versions which get added as bonus tracks to CDs and often aren't very good. These albums are nothing like that at all - they are a joy. I think they contain some of Suzanne Vega's best work, and I recommend all four volumes very warmly.
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