Suzanne Vega Retrospective: The Best Of Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

She shows love, loneliness and overall goodness in her timeless songs.

Lucy Davies 2003

It's easy to forget Suzanne Vegas' success, it kind of creeps up on you. But her story telling and unassuming vocals, singing and speaking at the same time, have been with us for a long time (with a back-catalogue of 6 albums), and her fans are devoted. She rewards loyalty by staying in touch, keeping in regular contact through the message boards on her website.

You could get away with calling her an anti-singer: her persona is quiet and inconspicuous like ''Solitude Standing'', and ''Left of Centre''. And her voice is not about virtuosity, just conveying a message in a calm, trustworthy way. That's what always made tracks like ''Luka'' so effective: she tells the story and you add the emotion. There's a real tenderness in the telling; sympathy of all the characters and their troubles; the queen of understatement.

Songs like ''In Liverpool'' are powerful little poems; miniatures of human nature; how the world can be a reflection of the insider. She retells the actions of the crazed boy in the belfry, ringing the bells out and expressing the observer's pain. 'He sounds like he's missing something or someone he knows he can't have now. And if he isn't, I certainly am'.

''Marlene on the Wall'', tells the story of a fractious half-hearted relationship:'We skirt around the danger zone and don't talk about it later'. But then ''Caramel'' reminds you that she can write and sing a very simple love song.

There's so much in this CD it's impossible to go into, but it reminds me that I'm glad she persevered; auditioning week-in week-out in a bar in Greenwich Village, whilst the promoter ate a pork chop and rejected her, week-in week-out.

Someone once told me that if Suzanne Vega was playing in the background, he couldn't concentrate on anything else, and it's easy to see why. She's got a lot more to say than your average songwriter, the lyrics stand up as poems on their own, and using historical scenes and urban settings she shows love, loneliness and overall goodness in her timeless songs.

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