Wednesday, November 14, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 60



Vega matures musically on 'Songs'

By Cara Sarelli
Daily Cougar Staff

In her first release since 1996's Nine Objects of Desire, Suzanne Vega, with an autobiographical gutsy-ness, places her heart and soul on a platter for audiences to view.

Melanie Niessen/A&M Records

Acoustic guitarist/vocalist Suzanne Vega is reaching out to other media outlets. Besides music, she has written a book, The Passionate Eye: The Collected Writing of Suzanne Vega.

Vega separated from her long-time producer and husband Mitchell Froom three years ago. The initial devastation felt and the maturity acquired through her loss are evident throughout Songs in Red and Gray. The album contains many references to marriage, presenting wedding bands in bitter limelight, like 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."

This theme is also noticeable in "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May." In the first verse, Vega sings, "I'll never be your Maggie May/ The one you loved and left behind/
The face you see in light of day/ And then you cast away."

"It Makes Me Wonder" picks up the album a bit, containing more energy than the first few opening songs combined. The song is all-around more emotionally
expressive: "I have to say it makes me wonder/ If you are holding me/ To that cold blue flame that you are under/ I feel you scolding me."

This innovative yet subtle masterpiece is the musical manifestation of the talents of an artist who's been working in showbiz for nearly two decades.

Vega explains the idea of bringing opposites together in Songs in Red and Gray: "In the context of this music, red stands for the passions and the heart, and gray is
more gray matter of the brain ... Red is also for youthfulness, and gray is for maturity."

The album is obviously mature musically and stylistically, while it reflects aging and life. But there are a few youthful elements to it, as Vega claims.

"If I Were a Weapon" is one of the catchiest, most cleverly written songs on Red and Gray. "If you were a weapon/ A hammer's what you'd be/ Blunt and heavy at the
end/ And coming down on me...

"But I've concealed a weapon/ In a pocket knife attack/ All folded up inside until you see/ The shine/ And then you'll want it back."

Red and Gray blends Vega's classic acoustic guitar with her trademark soothing voice. Much time was spent composing and finely tuning the work, as the
musician admits spending a year on the opening track, "Penitent."

The only drawback to having such a well-defined style of music and lyrical quality is that one can come to a plateau where everything produced and composed
sounds so similar that the songs hardly deviate stylistically from each other. Vega also keeps to the same range in most of her vocals.

But the album is great for relaxing. The listener just really has to pay attention to get anything out of the lyrics; since the music is very passive, the messages in the
writing can easily be missed.

However, the title track is the best song on the album, beautifully uniting strings, piano and keyboards with Vega's usual acoustic guitar and drums very Tori

Any fan of poetic artists Sarah McLachlan or Sheryl Crow should check out Suzanne Vega. Her talent is explicit and her writing style is admirable.

Suzanne Vega

Songs in Red and Gray

**** (out of five stars)

A&M Records

Send comments to

To contact the Shobiz Section Editor, click the e-mail link at the end of this article.

To contact other members of 
The Daily Cougar Online staff, 


Advertise in The Daily Cougar

Student Publications
University of Houston
151C Communication Bldg
Houston, Texas 77204-4015

©2005, Student Publications. All rights reserved.
Permissions/Web Use Policy


Last upWednesday, November 14, 2001:

Visit The Daily Cougar