I thought I would do my first Grouchbutt style album review for the new album from Suzanne Vega. So I am going to go through it track by track. I'll be referring to the liner notes/press release for some of the tracks too. Ok:
1. "Zephyr & I". The album's "driving opener" that recounts a conversation with the titular and apparently legendary graffiti artist as they stroll down a New York Avenue, it is certainly a jaunty start to the album. The lyrics are a little darker than the music would suggest though, with talk of children being gone but their souls remaining.
2. "Ludlow Street". An outstanding track. Seemingly an ode to a lost love, it is about how returning to the places you used to go with them isn't the same without them. The chorus is gorgeous and makes you ache.
3. "New York Is A Woman". Something of an oddity. If you wanted to, you could call this mysognistic as well as a bit insulting to New York. Or you could unclench and call it playful and a tribute to the city. I'll go with the latter.
4. "Pornographer's Dream". It's songs like this by Ms Vega, that are musically uninvolving and average, that make you truly appreciate how she really is more of a poet than a songwriter. Her lyrics are always a joy to listen to and it's no different with this song.
5. "Frank & Ava". Again, depending on how you look at this song, it could be her way of saying love sucks but it could also be pointing out that as long as your relationship is built on MORE than love then it will work. Either view isn't particularly rosy, I'll admit. It's a punchy little number though and the first single from the album.
6. "Edith Wharton's Figurines". A gorgeous little song and the first of three that I remember her playing when I saw her in 2005. As well as actually being about said figurines, it's also a comment on what people will do to themselves with surgery because they consider "their own beauty not enough".
7. "Bound". Now, according to the liner notes, this is one of two her most personal songs to date. Fine. It's a love song to her husband. What? Did they listen to the song? It's a nugget of tar black perfection, but a love song? I don't think so. The verses aren't overly cheery and by the time the chorus kicks in and Ms Vega plaintively asks if "you might still want me", you're brushing away tears so it's easier to find the razor blades. I love it. In fact it's my favourite song on the album, narrowly beating "Ludlow Street".
8. "Unbound". Do you see what she did there? This is the second song I remember from 2005 and it's the most radically overhauled. Given that 2005 was an acoustic evening and this song now has beats up the yin yang, that's not a surprise.
9. "As You Are Now". The second of those personal songs, this one is to her daughter, who is now 13 years old. It's sort of like "How You've Grown" by 10,000 Maniacs only more specific. It's beautiful.
10. "Angel's Doorway". Sort of a companion piece to "Frank & Ava" from what I can make out in the lyrics. It's the least impression making song on the album but it's by no means a duff track.
11. "Anniversary". The last track on the album and the last track I remember her playing on the acoustic evening in 2005. It's about walking around Ground Zero on an anniversary of 9/11 and the memories it stirred up. I never forgot the line about "the wind whips round in circuitry" for some reason. It's an utterly beautiful song and the perfect way to close the album.
And there it is. A scant 34 minutes after it began, it's all over. And that would be my only complaint I think. While Suzanne Vega has never been one to put the long in Long Player (her longest is just under 46 minutes), I feel a little cheated by its brevity. Six years is a long time to wait for a new album, after all.