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Close-Up Vol. 1: Love Songs [Barnes & Noble Exclusive]

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Intimate and heart-felt

    In the era of omnipresent auto-tune along comes an artist who has the courage to put her voice out there virtually unprocessed sometimes backed by nothing but her guitar. As a result the vocals on this album do not have the usual processed perfection.

    The trade-off is you will hear Suzanne Vega's raw feelings coming through in a way that you seldom get to hear in a recorded performance. Everything on this album is deeply personal coming from Suzanne's own experiences and as a consequence this album delivers an emotional impact others would be hard pressed to duplicate.

    Suzanne has a rare gift with lyrics, crafting songs that are as much poems set to music as they are songs. The minimalistic arrangements allow her poetic lyrics to really shine through and invite the listener's contemplation. She also takes the opportunity to re-interpret some of the phrasings in her earlier work effectively showcasing her ongoing growth and development as an artist. This is particularly noticeable on "Small Blue Thing".

    The sparse arrangements serve best on the songs where the mood is of a more pensive, lonely vibe. "Harbor Song" is absolutely stunning with the new arrangement. "Bound" also takes on a more deeply personal character with the extra instrumentation stripped away.

    Many singers claim to be singer-songwriters, but don't do much more than add a little melisma to a phrase here and there to get their extra royalties and song credits. Suzanne Vega on the other hand, IS the real deal and you will hear the difference that makes in the way she delivers these songs.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A wonderful collection of great songs, performed in a new way.

    In this album Suzanne has taken songs that were originally produced with a lot of instrumentation and effects and played them in a basic "living room" setting with only her own guitar, and the electric lead of Gerry Leonard and the bass of Mike Visceglia. These latter two have been with Suzanne for many years and their playing is seamless and flawless.

    Small Blue Thing is similar to the original version, and sounds really nice in this minimalist style.

    In Bound, the emotion Suzanne's voice expresses is deep and vivid. It's startling in its force, and her voice has that plaintive quality so like Billy Holiday.

    I like the slower tempo to Marlene on the Wall compared to the original, and Gerry Leonard's guitar is particularly beautiful and dreamy. It seems more reflective at this slower pace.

    Stockings is more fun, more suggestive and intimate than on the original album (it's great there too); almost as if she's laughing while she's singing it. The flirtatious mood is set perfectly. I just love all the "oh, yeah's".

    Song in Red and Gray seems more deeply reflective and emotional without the dreamy background of the original version. It is somehow even more haunting, nevertheless.

    (I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May is really nice with just Suzanne's guitar, and is very much in the ballad tradition of say, the Queen and the Soldier.

    Some Journey has lovely background guitar by Gerry again, that sets off Suzanne's playing perfectly. And of course it's still a wonderfully told story with her imaginative lyrics giving it a mysterious atmosphere.

    Harbor Song is nostalgic and heartfelt, and really gives you a sense of being at the shore in an old fishing town, with the evocative lyrics and long ago-seeming tempo to the song.

    In Gypsy Suzanne's voice is perhaps the best ever, and with the pure poetry of the lyrics, it is truly mesmerizing. (How can you beat "...of coffeeshops and morning streets, in a blue and silent sunrise") She performs here like she does in concert, with only her own guitar.

    Headshots is really cool, and is somewhat similar, but toned down, compared to the way it was done on Nine Objects of Desire. Here Gerry's guitar is excellent as well.

    (If You Were) In My Movie is similar to the album version, but done with just the guitars. Suzanne's voice has that husky, near-whisper quality in parts of this, along with parts where it is as pure and beautiful as in Gypsy.

    Caramel is really nice with Suzanne's voice seeming deeper and more melodious than usual.

    It is a masterful performance, all around. These songs are all quietly performed without any fanfare, and need none, because they are all so good to begin with. She's hit it perfectly with this approach. It really is like she's playing in the living room with you. For those not familiar with the extraordinary work of this master storyteller and singing poet, this is a good place to start, since this collection has songs from six different albums.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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