Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Can You Love One?


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: Suzanne Vega. I would love to report that this 1985 debut by this soft-spoken New York bard totally holds up and affirms her place in the pantheon of latter-day neo-folk singer/songwriters. But while the songcraft is mostly strong and the mood reliably intimate, the mid-80s production really gets in the way of my enjoying the replay: the synth patches and the hollow-sounding drums, in particular. What I was able to latch onto, at least intermittently, was the subversive quietness and blankness of her voice, and her angular, harmonic-spiked guitar work. At her best here, she shows her signature talent of cloaking disturbing, often violent imagery and sexual politics in a veil of soft, cushy, inviting tuneage. "Marlene" is still the pinnacle but I did enjoy hearing the attached song as well as "Some Journey." (I feel duty-bound to add that her subsequent albums sound much better, though I also need to confess that great-sounding or not I never played any as frequently as this one; the force of this introduction was that strong, and that's worth something. Also: when I saw her live at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix--reviewing for The Arizona Republic--I was struck by the grit and sinew of her sound, which had clearly been buffed away from this record.)

Comments:
April Rouveyrol love her
Amy Salloway Her first two albums were, and still are, part of the soundscape of my life - that's how much I've played them. Really "99.9" and "Days of Open Hand" too.
Chris Coffman Did you listen on vinyl? I have found early transfers to digital were not done well and the recordings sound very thin
Tracy Eliott That album has always been one of my favorites ...

Gary Kout Serious synchronicity across the miles between us, Rob. I just listened to that album yesterday! First time in, oh, 10 years? Either a harmonic convergence between us or my Spotify activity showed up on my FB page and gave you the idea, except it didn't.
Justin Warner love "marlene"

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