Though not the songs that would put her on the pop music map--that would come with 1987's Solitude Standing--Vega's first album shows her folky songwriting origins and, song for song, may still be her best. Produced by Pat... more »ti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, the sound is softly sculpted by Kaye's silvery guitar and an airy, occaisonal string section, matching the dream-like introspection of "Queen and the Soldier" and the surreal word play of "Small Blue Thing." Vega's philosophical, quiet, but confident approach would open the door for a second generation of female singer-songwriters like Dar Williams and Shawn Colvin. Her debut remains an unassuming sleeper for one of the '80s best folk or pop albums. --Roy Francis Kasten« less
Though not the songs that would put her on the pop music map--that would come with 1987's Solitude Standing--Vega's first album shows her folky songwriting origins and, song for song, may still be her best. Produced by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, the sound is softly sculpted by Kaye's silvery guitar and an airy, occaisonal string section, matching the dream-like introspection of "Queen and the Soldier" and the surreal word play of "Small Blue Thing." Vega's philosophical, quiet, but confident approach would open the door for a second generation of female singer-songwriters like Dar Williams and Shawn Colvin. Her debut remains an unassuming sleeper for one of the '80s best folk or pop albums. --Roy Francis Kasten
David N. (ilikeallmusic) from GADSDEN, AL Reviewed on 2/25/2007...
Just like new, with all artwork and booklet
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A Perfect Debut
dkre | Washington, DC United States | 09/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Suzanne Vega personified the neo-folk revival with this beautifully crafted literate album. Vega carves out a niche that she alone occupies with her hushed and stacatto singing style that recalls beat poets and confessional singer songwriters of the Leonard Cohen variety. Vega's spare guitar accompaniment jars and cajoles the listener into ruminations on self, love, loss, uncertainty, destiny. Stand outs include "Marlene on the Wall" an urgent portrait of Vega's affairs of the heart, all conducted under the ironic gaze of the poster-sized Marlene Dietrich; "Small Blue Thing" self-examination in the palm of a hand; "Some Journey" a soaring reflection on missed opportunity; "The Queen and the Soldier" a picture of willful arrogance that recalls the rich storytelling tradition of the Child ballads; "Neighborhood Girls" hipsters who are gone gone gone. Tactile and visceral images are juxtaposed in a sensual lyricism that reveals Vega as a maturing self who is reflective, protean, and open. The production values underscore the quiet intensity and overall moodiness of the album. A stunning set of songs that still inspires and moves."
Pure, clean, scary
Michael A. Cohn | Ann Arbor, MI, USA | 01/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whenever I talk about this first album, fellow fans are quick to point out that Suzanne's voice is not yet properly trained, and that the production values are bottom-of-the-barrel. I agree, but I don't care. These songs have a clean, piercing purity which I think is sometimes lost in her later work. This is definitely her edgy-slightly-unhinged folk-singer face, so it may not be for people who prefer her more energetic or sound-oriented work.I also believe that the entire album is an associative poem, but this is still an unverified quack theory."
dandurand | detroit | 12/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Suzanne Vega's debut is one of the 80's most overlooked and underrated treasures. Remarkably assured for a debut, the almost ethereal melancholy of this album denies any real comparison; it is unfailingly unique. Opening with "Cracking", a semi-spoken word piece piercingly scored with acoustic guitar and airy synthesizer, a tone is set that is mesmerizingly maintained throughout. The tone is crystalline, and its brittle beauty is remarkable in its timelessness. There have been some who have criticized the lush production and "new age" synth work, this criticism now seems dated itself; the instrumentation is utterly true to the spirit of the music and lyrics. In "Freeze Tag" the contrast of folk guitar and synth continues, again with haunting effect. "Marlene on the Wall" is almost lighthearted (in contrast), and "Small Blue Thing" does the remarkable trick of turning self-absorbed bathos into a gorgeous elegy. The three highlights of the album (besides the chilling "Cracking") are "Some Journey", "Straight Lines" and "The Queen and the Soldier". "Some Journey" is as erotic as anything she has done, and features some great Darrell Anger violin at the end. "Straight Lines" is a smartly unsentimental tale of a woman's suicide, with lines like "She is streamlined, she is taking the shade down from the light, to see the straight lines." Finally "The Queen and the Soldier" is a straight up folk ballad that neatly sums up the dangers of love, while being opaque enough to be adapted to anyone's pain; brilliant. Suzanne Vega, in my opinion, never again reached the pure lustre of this jewel. It is a work that deserves to be considered genius."
Poetry in motion
PSM/Bokor | United States | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit that I'm not familiar with Vega's other works; however, I have always found this CD to be brilliant. Vega's words are more poetry than song lyrics. Her musical style is intriguing. Her timing and pacing on the guitar aptly complement the words sung.
There is a starkness and surrealism that I have not experienced on any other CD, by any other artist. This isn't background music; one must sit and listen to the songs, the words.
This is poetry in motion..."
One of the instigators of the modern folk revival.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 02/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Suzanne Vega's eponymous debut heralded the arrival of an unabashedly sophisticated singer/songwriter whose verbal skills, detached but lovely delivery, urban wit and storytelling skills ranked her among the best of her genre.Though not her best album -- I give Solitude Standing an edge thanks to richer arrangements and songwriting -- this album is her most idiosyncratic, and most verbose. Vega at this point hasn't completely mastered her vocal delivery, but her coolly sympathetic voice already sounds great, and the songs are like a vibrant stream: The quietly resounding guitar of "Undertow"; the tight wordplay of "Marlene on the Wall"; the spoken-word leanings of "Cracking"; the heartfelt narrative power of "The Queen and the Soldier" (later covered by Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby).Without the pop hooks of a "Luka" to drive it, Suzanne Vega relies on the power of the word to make a point. And the point was heard clearly by many -- this album remains a favourite among Vega's fan circles."