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Beauty & Crime

57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 17, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On Beauty & Crime, Suzanne Vega's Blue Note Records debut, the Manhattan native uses New York City as the backdrop for a collection of eleven new songs that juxtapose acoustic guitar-driven melodies with coolly synthesized beats; intensely personal lyrics with compelling, short story-like narratives; images of today's scarred cityscape with memories of Vega's old Upper West Side 'hood and Lower East Side haunts. The past commingles with the present, the public with the private, familiar sounds with the utterly new, just like the city itself. Making her first new studio album in six years, Vega says, "I feel like I really stretched my limits. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone--to sing in keys I wouldn't have sung in before, to work with different textures, to be unafraid of doing what ever sounded good to me. I wanted to make a modern classic."

Suzanne Vega Photos

With a career spanning more than two decades, Suzanne Vega has long stressed quality over quantity. It's no surprise, therefore, that her first release in six years is more than worth the wait. Her eye for detail, laconic vocal cool, and thematic focus on New York City continue to distinguish her artistry, but the sonic sheen applied by British producer/multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Hogarth sparks a musical renewal. Crisp guitar riffing recalls the streetwise work of fellow New York chronicler Lou Reed, while chamber strings, electronic atmospherics, and multitracked background vocals lift the results well beyond the folk realm. Vega writes from a perspective of memory and maturity, recalling the New York of old on "Zephyr & I" and "Ludlow Street," showing the musical sophistication of bittersweet seduction on "New York Is a Woman," applying a musical Brazilian wax to "Pornographer's Dream," and contemplating her life as a wife on "Bound" and as a mother on the lullaby "As You Are Now." The results are richly satisfying throughout. --Don McLeese

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Zephyr & I 3:10$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. Ludlow Street 3:15$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. New York Is A Woman 2:54$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Pornographer's Dream 3:22$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Frank & Ava 2:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. Edith Wharton's Figurines 2:21$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. Bound 4:42$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Unbound 3:34$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. As You Are Now 2:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. Angel's Doorway 2:55$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Anniversary 2:59$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 17, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000H6SU9A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,517 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Suzanne Vega may be an acquired taste but after you've taken a drink of her latest album, you'll find it both intoxicating and difficult to give up. Admittedly there are those who dislike her hushed vocal delivery (which sounds at times like a female Lou Reed with echoes of Bob Dylan/Leonard Cohen where she isn't trying to "sing" the material so much as "discuss" her observations). I love Vega's delivery so sue me. She's a literate songwriter whose lyrics provide a nice constrast to the music which veers from folk, jazz, elements of techno sometimes within the same song.

"Beauty and Crime" is one of her best albums musically. This concept album about her adopted home New York is a loving and sometimes blunt assessment of the city that surrounds her and has been her muse off and on over the past twenty years. Vega has often taken stylistic detours sometimes off the beaten path like her flirtation with the techno elements that decorated "99.9f" and the smooth samba beat that showed up on "Nine Objects of Desire". Unlike those two albums the production of Jimmy Hogarth is less distracting and self-conscious than those two albums allowing the quality of the songs to shine through. For those that are interested the Japanese release has one extra song that comes in at just under two minutes. It's a good song but you won't miss it (unlike "Golden" from "Songs of Red and Gray) if you purchase the U.S. release of the album.

"Zephyr & I" and "Ludlow Street" have some of the most inviting melodies/arrangements since Vega's breakthrough album. "New York is a Woman" uses a pretty plain metaphor to describe a visitors first visit to the Big Apple. Vega's presentation is pretty straight forward folk outside of the occasional use of horns to decorate the song.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Palmer on July 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When I picked up Suzanne Vega's seventh studio release "Beauty & Crime", I did what a lot of people do these days - I ripped MP3 files for my computer. When I saw that the total time of the songs was only 34 minutes, I was a little disappointed because I have waited 6 years for her follow-up to the terrific "Songs in Red and Gray". But then I played the songs. Wow! The lady still has the magic. Although the songs are pretty short (only one exceeds 4 minutes and I actually think that song - "Bound" - drags on a little too long), they pack a punch. Personal favorites are "Edith Wharton's Figurines", "Unbound" and the one everyone seems to like, "New York is a Woman", which is about a suburban man's first trip to New York City. As a suburban man who will soon take his first trip to New York, I feel like Suzanne just gave me a tour!

I thought the CD was great and I hope she sees enough success with it that we'll hear from her again, hopefully sooner than 6 years from now. I'm looking forward to seeing her for the first time live later this year.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RebeccaPea on April 17, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Thematically, this is the most consistent album Suzanne has presented to date. I think "New York is a Woman" and "Pornographer's Dream" rank up there with the best songs she has ever written. "Edith Wharton's Figurines" and "Anniversary" are also good too and Suzanne covers a lot of intellectual and emotional territory over the course of the album. There is a lot here and I think it is especially lovely how "Anniversary" ties the whole album together at the end: "make time for all your possibilities, they live on every street."

For me, the album is worth buying just for "New York is a Woman" and "Pornographer's Dream." To me these songs represent Suzanne performing at her lyrical and musical peak and I was surprised and delighted to find such great songs on this album because let's face it, it's been awhile. That being said, absent these two songs it would be a much weaker album as many of the other songs lyrically and musically lean further in the direction of pop than Suzanne typically goes. In one respect this is good because it means the album offers "something for everyone" both folk and pop fans alike. However, this is what holds me back from giving the album a full five star rating. For Suzanne Vega fans, hands down it's worth buying. For first time listeners, I'd direct them to earlier albums Suzanne Vega and/or Solitude Standing so they can appreciate this later album in the context of her prior work, then come back and enjoy!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Rupert on March 3, 2008
Format: Audio CD
As far as Billboard charts go, the only successes Suzanne Vega probably had were "Luka" and "Tom's Diner". But chart positions don't necessarily reflect quality, as her latest album Beauty & Crime might be her best work yet.

Though this is the first studio album Suzanne has released since 2001's Songs in Red and Gray, the break suited her well because this album never runs out of highlights (but it's not like Songs in Red and Gray was a bad album either). "Frank & Ava", "Zephyr & I" and "Ludlow Street" are storytelling gems, "New York is a Woman" and "Edith Wharton's Figurines" are well-thought-out metaphors, and "Angel's Doorway" is very creative. The back-to-back "Bound" and "Unbound" also compliment each other nicely.

Suzanne Vega might not be as popular as she used to be but Beauty & Crime proves that her music is still indeed beautiful, so pick it up.

Anthony Rupert
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Release date of "Beauty & Crime" by Suzanne Vega
OK here's what I find annoying. I went out of my way to "buy" the CD and Vega's offering an exclusive tune at itunes where I have to "buy" the whole album again to get this one single song (either that or I can pay $30.00 for the import). This type of crap has got to stop.... Read More
Jul 25, 2007 by Wayne Klein |  See all 3 posts
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