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Close-Up, Vol. 2 - People and Places (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

The second installment of Suzanne Vega’s four-part thematically arranged intimate re-recordings of her catalog is People & Places, a concept that allows for the inclusion of her two biggest hits, “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.” Both are here, given austere arrangements that are emblematic of the entirety of the album. Much of this is spare enough to suggest that the album contains nothing but Vega and her guitar, but these are not solo re-recordings — they’re tastefully colored with strings, electric guitars, and light percussion, subtly changing the feel of some songs but not the intent. Apart from selections from the densely produced 99.9 F°, there are no great reinterpretations of Vega’s work and even those three don’t feel drastically different, just unadorned, fitting the “Close-Up” concept quite well. Curiously, the entire Close-Up project sidesteps nostalgia, and not just because Vega finds space to include a new song, “The Man Who Played God,” co-written with the late Mark Linkous and Danger Mouse, here. She may be revisiting her past but she’s not attempting to re-create it, and this clear-eyed, unsentimental attitude goes a long way toward making these records work.

Biography

Born: July 11, 1959 in Santa Monica, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Suzanne Vega was the first major figure in the bumper crop of female singer/songwriters who rose to prominence during the late '80s and '90s. Her hushed, restrained folk-pop and highly literate lyrics (inspired chiefly by Leonard Cohen, as well as Lou Reed and Bob Dylan) laid the initial musical groundwork for what later became the trademark sound of Lilith Fair (a tour on which she was a regular). Moreover, her left-field hit single "Luka" helped convince record companies that folk-styled singer/songwriters...
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