Songs in Red and Gray

( 7 )

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Red and gray are far apart in the realm of color, and their titular presence gives a pretty good indication of what contrasting tones will be heard in the grooves of New York post-folkie Suzanne Vega's latest album. While not unrelievedly dark, the disc is muted in terms of its sonics -- but not in terms of its emotional tenor, which ranges from the hushed introspection of the lovely "Penitent" to the teeth-baring defiance of "If I Were a Weapon." It's not hard to hear the fallout from the breakup of her marriage to producer Mitchell Froom: The spare, delicate instrumentation is a far cry from the brittle experimentalism that marked the records she made with Froom, while several tracks address a departed lover in ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Red and gray are far apart in the realm of color, and their titular presence gives a pretty good indication of what contrasting tones will be heard in the grooves of New York post-folkie Suzanne Vega's latest album. While not unrelievedly dark, the disc is muted in terms of its sonics -- but not in terms of its emotional tenor, which ranges from the hushed introspection of the lovely "Penitent" to the teeth-baring defiance of "If I Were a Weapon." It's not hard to hear the fallout from the breakup of her marriage to producer Mitchell Froom: The spare, delicate instrumentation is a far cry from the brittle experimentalism that marked the records she made with Froom, while several tracks address a departed lover in decidedly unambiguous terms. The best of those, "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May," waxes resolute over a lacy filigree of acoustic guitar and hand percussion, while the stark "Soap and Water" couches emotional progression in cleansing metaphor. In days of yore, Vega was often prone to keep her emotions bottled up, but pulsing tracks like "Makes Me Wonder" let the venom flow, all the better to let the listener in on her inner conflicts. While not exactly easy to listen to, Songs in Red and Grey is eminently relatable and unquestionably cathartic -- and catharsis is something we all need from time to time.-- David Sprague
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In musical terms, it is less significant that Mitchell Froom is no longer Suzanne Vega's husband than it is that he is no longer her producer. Although Froom's experimental style helped the singer/songwriter fulfill her desire to expand beyond her folk-pop roots on her fourth and fifth albums, 99 F° and Nine Objects of Desire, his approach actually worked against the material, cluttering her intimate, direct songs with inappropriate percussion tracks and various kinds of sound processing. So, listeners who responded strongly to her first three albums but found the Froom discs off-putting and there were plenty of them should be alerted that, sonically, Songs in Red and Gray is ready to welcome back old fans. Produced by Rupert Hine, it has the kind of carefully played acoustic guitar work and close-up vocal miking that characterized Suzanne Vega and Solitude Standing. That makes it easier to appreciate Froom's departure from Vega's personal life as well as her professional one, however. This is very much a divorce album, its songs frequently touching on romantic discord and the resulting fall-out. Vega is both precise and artful in describing the situation. She writes by metaphor, unafraid, on "Machine Ballerina," for example, to mix those metaphors and pile them up. That allows her some emotional distance, but never at the expense of meaning. Her concern with the dissolution of her marriage and its impact on her child is apparent in "Soap and Water" when she sings, "Daddy's a dark riddle/Mama's a headful of bees/you are my little kite /carried away in the wayward breeze," even though the lines make up a succession of metaphors. Her calm, hushed, clear singing only emphasizes the emotional torment the songs trace. The result is an album on a par with her best work.
Blender - Johnny Black
One of Vega’s best.

One of Vega’s best.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/25/2001
  • Label: SPECTRUM HMN
  • UPC: 606949311124
  • Catalog Number: 111

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Penitent (4:16)
  2. 2 Widow's Walk (3:33)
  3. 3 (I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May (3:47)
  4. 4 It Makes Me Wonder (4:00)
  5. 5 Soap and Water (3:03)
  6. 6 Songs in Red and Gray (4:18)
  7. 7 Last Year's Troubles (3:35)
  8. 8 Priscilla (4:14)
  9. 9 If I Were a Weapon (2:45)
  10. 10 Harbor Song (4:18)
  11. 11 Machine Ballerina (2:57)
  12. 12 Solitaire (2:10)
  13. 13 St. Clare (2:30)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Suzanne Vega Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Jack Hardy Track Performer
Rupert Hine Bass, Piano, Strings, Keyboards, Woodwind, Orchestral Percussion
Michael Visceglia Bass
Jay Bellerose Drums
Dougie Yowells Percussion, Drums
Matt Johnson Drums
Technical Credits
Rupert Hine Arranger, Producer, drum programming
Greg Calbi Mastering
Stephen W. Tayler Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It's great to hear Suzanne, again!

    Suzanne's lyrics, voice, and accompinement merge on this cd to create an escape par excellence! In her voice, we visit the ocean, the harbor, Spain, as well as last year, and the game solitare. The spiritual gains, the soul-searching it invokes, as well as the enjoyment it brings to those not interested in anything but a jovial listen...this cd has it all! Even if you are not familiar with Ms. Vega, if you want to consider yourself musically literate, BUY IT! From Miriam the special K

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    You got to get Suzannes latest Songs in Red and Gray

    The best since her 1st. Really Unique and refreshing. I normally like Hard Rock, Metal, but to relax and sit back. Definitely Songs in Red and Gray. I got to give it up to her. She has really found who she is. Take my word for it and all the other 6.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Return of Intelligent Lyrics

    It's been a mighty long time since I've heard an entire CD that contained as much thoughtful poetry as this one. And poetry set to music, the kind that Suzanne Vega is noted for, is an even greater treat. So if you are tired of the unsensitive drivel that's written in the marketplace these days, and passed off as ''art'', you will find a reward in this CD. Suzanne's sweet tones and Rupert Hine's production backing make this a winner. It's gentle enough to play for the ageing among us, and cool enough (with songs like Solitaire, Machine Ballerina and It Makes Me Wonder) to attract the youngest among us. I know. I tested the CD on an octogenarian, as well as a 13 year old. Rave reviews all around. So take it home. It might well become your next new favorite spin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Welcome Back, Suzy!

    Not to denigrate Suzanne's output during the Froom years, but this new venture is a nice welcome back to the sound and vibe of an earlier Vega--while at the same time staking claims on musical and emotional territory that is completely new. Really good stuff!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Yet another masterpiece

    I'm certainly not that good at writing reviews, but I'll try. After five years, Suzanne Vega has come back with yet another masterpiece, her sixth to date. The haunting, beautiful lyrics are matched with a production that centers on her guitar but never limits itself to that instrument. I'm tempted to say this woman can do no wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Breathtaking

    Songs In Red and Gray is one of the most beautiful, honest, albums ever to have been written. Check out the title track, 'Soap and Water,' and 'Penitant' as stand-outs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    BRILLIANT LYRIC, LOVELY MELODIES

    Suzanne Vega returns with an incredible new CD. With some of the songs detailing her divorce, this collection of songs manages to be both powerful and beautiful. The melodies are instantly memorable and the lyrics are up there with the best contemporary poetry. The best album of the year!

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