New York based folk singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega returns with her ninth studio album, which homages the life of writer Carson McCullers with ten songs that span from stripped-down folk/country, pop and musical-like tunes.
Vega stated that “If I ever want to play a character at any point in the future, I could play this woman.” And in a certain way she’s doing it right now, releasing this album telling the story of the beloved writer bookend in two weighty moments of her life: “the first, set in 1941, when The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter propelled her to literary fame, and the second shortly before her death, as she movingly reflects on her life and work.”
Given such a narrow topic the music is even and unevenly too wide in genre and style. I’d rather keep the choice down to the bluesy, easygoing folk of opener Carosn’s Blues and the single Harper Lee (which is definitely pretty) or the smoky-club, jazzy tunes as The Ballad Of Miss Amelia. Vega lost her compass and wandered toward distant territories instead. Hence, we see an overly cheeky pop song, We of Me, taking place right in the middle of the disc, for instance. This song would have done great into a James Blunt‘s record but here it just falls off the map.
A further mistake is the poorly judged call for overly basic arrangement that makes a song like Carson’s Last Supper too much boring and monotonous to bear. And that’s a shame that Vega‘s sensual, satiny yet somehow rasping voice has been compromised by such subtle arrangement issues.
For a musical play theme Lover, Beloved would have been fine. Unluckily, in this day and age, you should be doing better to impress and craft an outstanding record -since they’re not gonna be played anywhere near the theatre-, even if we’re talking about a simple genre as folk music.
Label: Cooking Vinyl | Edel
Release Date: 14th October 2016