Few singer-songwriters can intoxicate with a phrase and a melody like Suzanne Vega, and no other anthology can boast this: 21 of her hits, album gems and choice rarities! Luka ; the DNA remix of Tom's Diner ; the international hit Marlene on the Wall , plus Left of Center; No Cheap Thrill ; her new songs Penitent and I'll Never Be Your Maggie May , and more!
It's the rare singer-songwriter whose emotional confessions rise above bathos to find true resonance with their listeners; rarer still the one who can connect their audience with the plight of everyday strangers. Suzanne Vega not only managed that feat on her unlikely, child-abuse themed breakthrough hit "Luka" in 88, but opened the door for a renaissance of intelligent, female folk-oriented music in the decade that followed. This 21-track anthology spans Vega's career before and since, a chronicle of cool, sharp-eyed detachment infused by a restless, oft-underrated sense of musical invention that spans club-mixes (the "Tom's Diner" here was originally a "pirate" deejay mix by DNA that Vega wisely adopted), Latin jazz ("Caramel"), electro-percussive rhythm explorations ("Blood Makes Noise," "99.9F," and ""Woman on the Tier" from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack
) neo-classicism ("Small Blue Thing") and a sharp-edged pop sense ("I'll Never Be Your Maggie May," "Book of Dreams") that can't be denied. That it's all still clearly rooted in a diverse pantheon that includes Bob Dylan
, Leonard Cohen
, and Woody Guthrie
is all the more remarkable. Rarities include "Left of Center" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack
, a live "Queen and the Soldier" and previously import-only "Rosemary." Also features all lyrics and the insightful recollections of Vega colleague/Patti Smith
guitarist Lenny Kaye. --Jerry McCulley