Review: ‘Suzanne Vega – ‘Beauty & Crime’’

Inviting and intelligent, Suzanne Vega’s first album in six years is an 11-track examination of New York City — some personal, some observational, some fictional — with each track taking the shape of a short story.

Inviting and intelligent, Suzanne Vega’s first album in six years is an 11-track examination of New York City — some personal, some observational, some fictional — with each track taking the shape of a short story.

Opener “Zephy & I” kicks off with an oh-so-NuYawk sound — a nick of the chord changes to Lou Reed’s “Vicious” — and strolls onto West End Avenue in 2002 where “the wind kicks up with the smell of rain/the kids are gone but the souls remain,” one of several nods the native New Yorker gives to old neighborhoods she lived in or visited frequently.

With a new producer, Jimmy Hogarth, “Beauty & Crime” has a distinctiveness in the Vega oeuvre: It is neither folkie nor reliant on electronic beats, instead shaped by electric guitars, the occasional flute or a swell of strings. She no longer uses any distancing techniques in her voice and instead looks to engage a listener as an attentive storyteller would.

Suzanne Vega - 'Beauty & Crime'

Blue Note
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