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Songs in Red and Gray Import

75 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, September 25, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Suzanne Vega remains one of the most relentlessly, mercilessly tasteful recording artists alive. Every note on Songs in Red and Gray has been arranged with the meticulous precision of a butler laying silver on a table. Every sound is so polished and buffed that you barely notice you're listening, every syllable of every lyric only admitted to the melodies after painstaking reviewing and rewriting, and every song sung as if Vega believes that her core audience consists of elocution teachers. This has worked, occasionally, for Vega before--it should not be forgotten what an original presence she was with "Left of Center" and "Marlene on the Wall"--and it works, occasionally, for Vega now. There are a few fine songs here, notably the gently acerbic "Last Year's Troubles" and the wryly subversive "Maggie May" (not the Rod Stewart standard), but there is also a whole lot of glutinous, over-refined suet. Vega still needs to give her songs a much longer leash. --Andrew Mueller

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. Penitent (Album Version) 4:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Widow's Walk (Album Version) 3:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. (I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May (Album Version) 3:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. It Makes Me Wonder (Album Version) 4:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Soap And Water (Album Version) 3:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Songs In Red and Gray (Album Version) 4:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Last Years Troubles (Album Version) 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Priscilla (Album Version) 4:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. If I Were A Weapon (Album Version) 2:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Harbor Song (Album Version) 4:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Machine Ballerina (Album Version) 2:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Solitaire (Album Version) 2:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. St. Clare (Album Version) 2:30$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: A&M Records
  • ASIN: B00005O6JG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,147 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on February 12, 2003
Format: Audio CD
With some albums, to fully enjoy them takes some extra knowledge that you have to acquire outside of the tracks and liner notes themselves. For example, Eric Clapton's "Layla" is a beautiful song, but it becomes something more when you learn that Clapton wrote it as a love song to his best friend's wife. Similarly, Fleetwood Mac's album Rumours contains all sorts of hidden messages sent by the three songwriters of the group to their respective exes: Buckingham to Nicks, "packing up, shacking up's all you want to do" from "Go Your Own Way" and Nicks to Buckingham, "players only love you when they're playing" from "Dreams." Some are obvious--Roger Water's paeon to his father in Pink Floyd's The Final Cut--while others take a kind of fanaticism to decipher (the ongoing battle between John Fogarty and his ex-manager in songs like "Zanz Kant Danz").
Between Suzanne Vega's last studio offering, 1996's Nine Objects of Desire, and this release, several things occurred in her life that provided the germ for the songs and the tone of Songs in Red and Gray. Both her two previous albums had been produced by her husband, Mitchell Froom (they had married in 1994, between the two albums he produced), but the new album is produced with Rupert Hine. Vega also separated from Froom in 1998, retaining custody of their daughter, Ruby Froom.
The change in producers is the first thing you notice as you start listening to Songs in Red and Gray, which sounds much more like Vega's first couple of albums in their intimacy and the relationship between Vega's soft vocal and the accompiament.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 27, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Suzanne Vega has long been one of my favorite singer/songwriters, much more original and sharp in her lyrics and music than many other female folk singers. I was surprised to see that this album aroused such irritation in many of her fans, and I almost didn't buy it after reading the reviews on Amazon. Luckily, it was playing in a local music store and on hearing it in full I snapped it up; I think it's one of her best. Certainly, there's no question that it can't compare either to her debut, _Suzanne Vega_, or to the brilliant and original _Nine Objects of Desire_. But put side by side with any other album from Ms. Vega's catalogue, Songs in Red and Gray more than holds its own. Like the rest of her work, this album has its hits and its misses. I particularly like the religious commitment of "Penitent," the ironic honesty of "Widow's Walk," the Mitchell-Froom-esque harshness of "If I Were a Weapon," and the sheer playfulness of the sound on "I'll Never Be Your Maggie May" and of "Last Year's Troubles." The song that really gets to me though is "Soap and Water." Here Suzanne Vega is at her lyrical best, crooning to her daughter in the middle of a painful divorce, "Daddy's a dark riddle/Mama's a headful of bees/You are my little kite/Carried away in a wayward breeze." These are fresh, original metaphors, showing Vega's much-vaunted poetic side. On the other hand, I was happy to see that overall, Vega's lyrics have become more straightforward, less obscure, not pandering by any means, but confident that their simplicity and spareness will carry all the nuances of feeling she wishes to express. Her voice, too, sounds as clear and controlled as ever. The music doesn't SOUND like it did on 99.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Few albums have touched me and knocked my socks off at the same time as this one has. This is by far her best songwriting since Suzanne Vega and Solitude Standing. I have enjoyed all of her albums, but these songs have a rawness, intimacy and intensity that I have rarely ever seen. On top of that, the musical arrangements framing the lyrics are perfect - not over done, not underdone. You can "feel" the emotion before she starts singing. I am not a professional critic, but I would say this is a flawless album. Pure Suzanne in the lyrics and her songwriting has reached a maturity and level of excellence that all of her fans have been watching her work towards.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jessica A. Miller on January 28, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Suzanne Vega's "Songs in Red and Gray" is very obviously the product of a break-up--or more specifically, a divorce. But where some songwriters may have ended up with an angst-y, self-absorbed, uninventive album, Suzanne Vega created a very polished, artistic, original and expressive album. Many songs are heartbreakingly sad, some bitter, but the overall tone of the cd is one of renewal and the deep wisdom that comes only with pain. Technically, the album is complex and smooth, flowing from one song to the next. Emotionally, the album is both painful and soothing, very cathartic. Each song has the strong feeling of some stage in the aftermath of a failed relationship--from anger to questioning to sadness to fragile strength to acceptance and wisdom.
The lyrics are inventive, using new metaphors and very descriptive phrases to describe emotions that could otherwise come off as generic. There are so many lyrical gems in these songs, at least one that strikes me in every song. In Widow's Walk ("Consider me a widow, boys and I will tell you why. It's not the man, but it's the marriage that was drowned."), Vega speaks of being a widow, not of a dead husband, but of a dead marriage. Soap and Water begins, "Soap and water take the day from my hand scrub the salt from my stinging skin slip me loose of this wedding band" and the refrain of "Daddy's a dark riddle, Mama's a head full of bees, you are my little kite, carried away in the wayward breeze" is heart wrenching. The light-hearted tune and contrasting lyrics of (I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May hit me immediately. I thought that the lines, "I'll never be your Maggie May, the one you loved and then forgot, I'll love you first and let you go, because it must be so, and you'll forgive or you will not" were simple and perfect.
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