CD Review: Suzanne Vega

Beauty & Crime Blue Note
Music •••• Sound ••••
Ever since she first appeared in the mid-1980s, Vega has reflected in her music the book/street-smartness of a decidedly New York City state of mind. Not surprising, then, that her first collection of all-new material since 2001 should carry the undercurrent of an urban life forever changed by the events of 9/11. Still, even with themes of loss echoing through songs like "Ludlow Street" and "Angel's Doorway," the overall mood (and message) here is one of resiliency - and hope. Like her city, the music is a melting-pot mix of rhythms and intensities, with fingerpicked acoustic guitars bumping into feedback-driven soundscapes, and warm strings gliding over cool beats. Meanwhile, Vega's careful lyrics speak to the ever-steadfast spirit that has always been a hallmark of her hometown. As she sings on the standing-tall "Anniversary": "Put away the draft of all your eulogies ... / Make the time for all your possibilities." As they say on the street: Word.

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