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Pop - Released April 1, 1987 | A&M

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The songs on Solitude Standing, Suzanne Vega's second album, had years listed beside them on the lyric sheet, so you could see that some of them dated back to 1978. But that bold admission heralded the album's triumph -- its diversity was what made it so good. Partially, that was because the old songs were the equal of anything on the first album -- tunes like the a cappella slice-of-life "Tom's Diner" and the warmly romantic "Gypsy" simply wouldn't have fit thematically on the debut. On Solitude Standing, however, they became part of an album of story songs set in a variety of musical contexts; many had band arrangements, and in fact, members of Vega's touring band often were credited as co-writers. Additionally, Vega had developed more as a singer without losing the focused intonation that had made her debut -- one of many compelling elements which helped make "Luka," a character song about domestic abuse, a fluke hit. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 11, 2020 | Cooking Vinyl Limited

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Suzanne Vega’s musical world involves stories in which characters hold as much importance as the setting they find themselves in. In this moving and delicate live recording, the singer pays homage to New York, one of her favourite cities. Surrounded by her longtime guitarist Gerry Leonard, bassist Jeff Allen and keyboardist Jamie Edwards, Suzanne Vega replays a section of her repertoire on the famous Café Carlyle stage in New York. “It’s a little club which has welcomed legends from Eartha Kitt to Judy Collins, and is also known for being the place where Jackie Kennedy met Audrey Hepburn.”, explains the singer. The hits Luka and Tom’s Diner have naturally been given a well-deserved place in this rich playlist which looks back on a career spanning 35 years that blossomed in the 1980s and continued throughout the 90s. Vega often gives a nod towards 70s folk music in her fragile and sweetly melancholic songs. The concert’s particularly intimate orchestration reinforces this spirit to the point that the same magic is there from the first piano chords and guitar riffs. The recording reaches its climax in a rendition of Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed, one of her idols. Through her tales of the hubbub of the great American city, Suzanne Vega manages to tell a story of her own. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released May 1, 1985 | A&M

Though early comparisons were made to Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega's true antecedents were Janis Ian and Leonard Cohen. Like Ian, she sings with a precise, frequently half-spoken phrasing that gives her lyrics an intensity that seems to suggest an unsteady control consciously held over emotional chaos. Like Cohen, Vega observes the world in poetic metaphor, her cold urban landscapes reflecting a troubled sense of love and loss. The key track is "Small Blue Thing," in which the singer pictures herself as an object "Like a marble/or an eye," "made of china/made of glass," "lost inside your pocket," and "turning in your hand." The sharply picked acoustic guitar and other isolated musical elements echo the closely observed scenes -- everything seems to be in tight close-up and sharp focus. Often, the singer seems to be using the songs to measure an emotional distance; sometimes, as in "Marlene on the Wall," she observes her own actions from a remove. In "Freeze Tag," she tells a companion, "I will be Dietrich/and you can be Dean"; in "Marlene," a poster of the aloof movie star "watches from the wall," observing the singer's succession of lovers, and she tries to emulate her heroine's persona, telling the current one, "Even if I am in love with you/all this to say, what's it to you?" The ten songs on Suzanne Vega constitute the self-analysis of a young woman who desires possession without offering commitment; no wonder that, upon its release, it was taken to heart by young women across the country and in Europe. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | A&M

This excellent overview of Vega's career contains all the hits and a fair sampling from each of her five albums, though Days of Open Hand receives a cold shoulder (only "Book of Dreams" represents it here), being a critical and personal failure. The CD as a whole shows that while Vega has stayed fairly consistent as a songwriter, her growth has been marked in the collaborations with various producers, from the spare, simplistic sound stages of Steve Addabbo and Lenny Kaye to the lush metallurgy of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. The collection also features that bane of fans, the exclusive track, necessitating purchasing the CD when one owns all the other material. However, these two new songs -- "Book & a Cover" and "Rosemary" -- are quality entries in Vega's songbook, and once again feature the production skills of Froom and Blake. © Ted Mills /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | A&M

Under the guidance of producer Mitchell Froom, who produced 99.9 F° and married her shortly after that album was completed, Suzanne Vega continues to explore more textured and vaguely experimental musical territory on Nine Objects of Desire. While it is less bold on the surface than its predecessor -- most notably, there are no pseudo-industrial rhythms -- Nine Objects of Desire still bears all the trademarks of a Mitchell Froom production. There is cheap, garage-yard percussion scattered throughout the record, layered keyboards, and overly mannered, arty arrangements. It's not as extreme as Froom's work for Los Lobos, for instance, but it is still more self-consciously pretentious than any of Vega's albums, besides 99.9 F°. Vega's songs manage to cut through the murky production more often than not, and while the album doesn't boast her most consistent set of songs, they are on the whole stronger than the ones on her previous record. The songs on Nine Objects of Desire are more classically structured and inviting than the ones on its predecessor -- it is only the production that keeps the listener at a distance. And that's ironic, since half of these songs rank among Vega's most personal work. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 22, 2003 | A&M

Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega is essentially A&M's updated version of their 1999 issue, The Best of Suzanne Vega: Tried and True, adding "Tired of Sleeping" from Vega's Days of Open Hand, "Calypso" and "Solitude Standing" from Solitude Standing, "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May" and "Penitent" from the 2001 recording Songs in Red and Gray, and "Woman on the Tier (I'll See You Through)" from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack. Unfortunately, A&M chose to drop "Book and Cover" from the track listing, which was only previously available on The Best of Suzanne Vega: Tried and True, but the overall collection feels a little bit more hearty with a total of 21 tracks instead of 17. © Gregory McIntosh /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 1, 1987 | A&M

The songs on Solitude Standing, Suzanne Vega's second album, had years listed beside them on the lyric sheet, so you could see that some of them dated back to 1978. But that bold admission heralded the album's triumph -- its diversity was what made it so good. Partially, that was because the old songs were the equal of anything on the first album -- tunes like the a cappella slice-of-life "Tom's Diner" and the warmly romantic "Gypsy" simply wouldn't have fit thematically on the debut. On Solitude Standing, however, they became part of an album of story songs set in a variety of musical contexts; many had band arrangements, and in fact, members of Vega's touring band often were credited as co-writers. Additionally, Vega had developed more as a singer without losing the focused intonation that had made her debut -- one of many compelling elements which helped make "Luka," a character song about domestic abuse, a fluke hit. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1992 | A&M

While 99.9 F° is not the techno album that Suzanne Vega was rumored to be making, it does offer a significant departure from her previous contemporary folk albums. Vega uses more synthesizers and drum machines, often evoking a bizarre carnivalesque atmosphere on the album. Still, 99.9 F° is a folk album at heart; every song is steeped in traditional song form, and Vega's writing is strong. Fans of Vega's previous work might be taken aback, but those willing to listen to the album will find that she has produced one of her strongest yet. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Booklet
Six years in the pop music world is a long time. In fact, for many artists, it's a lifetime or two. Suzanne Vega has been away from recording for a long time, but it isn't because she hasn't been working. She is the subject of Some Journey, a documentary film by Christopher Seufert; in addition, she hosted a memorial concert for her late brother, artist Timothy Vega in 2002, performed with Bill Frisell at the Century of Song concerts in Germany, hosted the American Public Media series American Mavericks (which won a Peabody Award), played a huge gig in Central Park in 2006, played live in the online game Second Life (she was the first artist of many to do so), got remarried, and changed record labels. She's also been writing songs: lots of them. Songs in Red and Gray, her last offering for A&M, was issued just two weeks after 9/11. Beauty and Crime is a lengthy meditation on the city of New York, the place she calls home. These songs glide like a harlequin's ghost through the hearts and minds of city residents past and present, on its streets, in its hotels, apartments, in every corner of the city. There is more than the hint of memory on Beauty & Crime. The album is dedicated to the memory of Tim, who lived on "Ludlow Street" -- the name of the set's second cut, a searing and simply moving tribute to him -- and cites as muses in part "...Edith Wharton and all her heroines...and Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner for their passion," and who have songs named for them here. In doing so, 9/11 itself cannot be left out of the equation, and the album's final two cuts deal with personal versions of this story, one of which is informed by her brother-in-law Angel Ruiz, a New York City cop stationed at Ground Zero after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Most of these songs look at life in the interim, or remembering what the city was like in the '70s as on the cut "Zephyr and I." Musically, this is easily her most adventurous record ever; yet it is also more accessible than any album since her debut. The craft and care put into the songs themselves and their articulation by Vega and producer Jimmy Hogarth are amazing. Here, emotions are laid bare in places whether in the first, second, or third persons, but they are always placed inside elegant yet spare lyrics that are taut, poetic, and evocative. The dreamy soundscape contains layers of guitars, percussion (organic, electronic and live, in one case) strings, reeds, brass, and backing singers (including daughter Ruby Froom who appears on a couple of cuts, and KT Tunstall who appears once). But it's the sound of Vega's acoustic guitar on all these songs that is unmistakably at the top and provides the album's anchor. It's important to note this, simply because it keeps these beautiful pop songs rooted in a new kind of contemporary folk that Vega was a pioneer of in the '80s. And it keeps her rooted to her own catalog, from the beginning to the present. In other words, as she has experimented in the past with all kinds of sounds, she has forever remained herself and never more so than here, whether it's the jazzy, faux bossa nova of "Pornographer's Dream" or its predecessor, the stunning "New York Is a Woman." "Frank and Ava," is a rocking pop tune whose electric and acoustic guitars entwine, seemingly kissing, wrapped around a bassline played by Tony Shanahan from the Patti Smith Group. The deliberate interweaving of strings and her guitar on "Edith Wharton's Figurines" offers a glimpse of the late author's studied cool and dignity as it speaks from the voices of her characters to a songwriter who can see not only herself, but the anonymous millions of others living in and around New York City. "Bound," whose title is attended by a glimpse of Vega's wedding to poet and lawyer Paul Mills (who waited for her for 26 years), along with "As You Are Now," about her daughter (which also contain a photograph of its subject) are among the most nakedly personal songs she has ever written. "Angel's Doorway" is as pointed a musical vignette as one is likely to hear in a pop song. With electric guitars, a seemingly cheesy synth line, droning bassline, and sparkling acoustic guitar with the flat thud of the percussion offers its tonalities of the various voices of those in the city who have been snuffed out but live inside the subject. The final track, "Anniversary," written a year after 9/11, opens with Vega's guitar skeletally framing her melody. It is the contemplative sound of a city that's gone on, changed forever yet forever itself, despite it being "thick with ghosts, the wind whips 'round its circuitries...as they meet you on each corner/meet you on each street..." even as the residents are exhorted to "watch for daily braveries/notice newfound courtesies/finger sudden legacies..." The song isn't a eulogy, it's the sound that does not simply memorialize, but opens a new chapter. Artists have always helped the rest of us make sense of upheaval, tragedy, tumultuous change, confusion and the darkness that often accompanies history. On Beauty & Crime, Vega accomplishes this in spades, but without any ideologies or with empty, overly simplistic ruminations or platitudes. Her grief is personal and so is her sense of gratitude, dignity, and love -- especially when it's hard. The opening words to "Ludlow Street," way back on track two, sum it up directly and may be the credo of the entire album: "Love is the only thing that matters/Love is the only thing that's real/I know we hear this every day/It's still the hardest thing to feel." Beauty& Crime is, without reservation, the defining creative moment of Suzanne Vega's career thus far, and a morally and emotionally communicative recording that instructs even as it confesses from inside, and reports from the margins and becomes, in its graceful impurity, a vision that is singular and utterly direct. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 3, 2014 | Cooking Vinyl

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Folk - Released March 11, 2013 | Concert Live Ltd

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 23, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

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Pop - Released October 14, 2016 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | A&M

In musical terms, it is less significant that Mitchell Froom is no longer Suzanne Vega's husband than it is that he is no longer her producer. Although Froom's experimental style helped the singer/songwriter fulfill her desire to expand beyond her folk-pop roots on her fourth and fifth albums, 99 F° and Nine Objects of Desire, his approach actually worked against the material, cluttering her intimate, direct songs with inappropriate percussion tracks and various kinds of sound processing. So, listeners who responded strongly to her first three albums but found the Froom discs off-putting (and there were plenty of them) should be alerted that, sonically, Songs in Red and Gray is ready to welcome back old fans. Produced by Rupert Hine, it has the kind of carefully played acoustic guitar work and close-up vocal miking that characterized Suzanne Vega and Solitude Standing. That makes it easier to appreciate Froom's departure from Vega's personal life as well as her professional one, however. This is very much a divorce album, its songs frequently touching on romantic discord and the resulting fall-out. Vega is both precise and artful in describing the situation. She writes by metaphor, unafraid, on "Machine Ballerina," for example, to mix those metaphors and pile them up. That allows her some emotional distance, but never at the expense of meaning. Her concern with the dissolution of her marriage and its impact on her child is apparent in "Soap and Water" when she sings, "Daddy's a dark riddle/Mama's a headful of bees/you are my little kite /carried away in the wayward breeze," even though the lines make up a succession of metaphors. Her calm, hushed, clear singing only emphasizes the emotional torment the songs trace. The result is an album on a par with her best work. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 17, 1990 | A&M

Suzanne Vega is a beautiful example of an artist excelling despite her limitations. While the singer-songwriter doesn't have much of a voice, she has no problem being incredibly expressive. Subtlety is the quality that defines Days of Open Hand, an album every bit as compelling as the superb Solitude Standing. Vega doesn't need to shout or preach in order to get her points across. On "Men in a War," the folk-pop-rock explorer examines the plight of disabled veterans without expressing the type of anger that Bruce Cockburn would when addressing such a subject. Restrained and understated, treasures like "Those Whole Girls (Run in Grace)," "Rusted Pipe" and "Room Off the Street" and the unsettling "Institution Green" show that for all their delicacy, Vega's songs can be quite meaty and give listeners a great deal to think about. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released June 14, 2010 | Cooking Vinyl

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Folk - Released October 4, 2010 | Cooking Vinyl

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 10, 2011 | Cooking Vinyl

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Pop/Rock - Released October 4, 2010 | Cooking Vinyl

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Pop - Released February 21, 2020 | Cooking Vinyl Limited

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