• RELEASE DATE /September 25, 2001
  • LABEL /A&M Records


Few words

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