Beauty & Crime

Studio Album by released in 2007
Beauty & Crime's tracklist:
Zephyr & I
Ludlow Street
New York Is a Woman
Pornographer's Dream
Frank & Ava
Edith Wharton's Figurines
Bound
Unbound
As You Are Now
Angel's Doorway
Anniversary

Beauty & Crime review

Mythic pop figure

In a deleted scene from Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega mentions when asked by Mia Wallace if is he related to Suzanne Vega, that he does have a cousin by the same name, but that he is unaware of he being a folk singer. And this episode actually suits Vincent's "kinswoman" artistic image quite precisely. Suzanne Vega's songs are known all over the world but she never was a part of those mass media celebrities who live with an open and scandalous life. And honestly speaking her modest and gentle songs simply don't accord with such an image. The main point that makes her creativeness so remarkable is that she always had a gift to write pioneering pop songs intended for years. It's been 20 years since her all time hit Tom's Dinner has pushed Vega into the mainstream but she doesn't sound retro even today. Nowadays she is more likely a mythic songstress whose presence is always perceptible even despite she has been pretty quiet for the last six years. However, in this year Suzanne Vega at last decided to fashion her phantom image into a more realistic forms and released her seventh studio album Beauty & Crime.

Beauty & Crime: modern classic

Suzanne Vega was always open for musical experiments. She was never taking drastic stylistic measures to keep her music fresh but still the attempts to use electronic elements, expressiveness of rock or her willingness to get closer to the dance music let us speak so. This time around she wanted, as she says, to make a modern classic. The album was recorded in New York and London with the help of such musicians as guitarists Gerry Leonard (David Bowie) and Lee Ronaldo (Sonic Youth); bassist Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith) and orchestral arranger Will Malone who used to work with Dido, Seal and Corinne Bailey Rae. Suzanne Vega herself plays the leading role here, of course. Her voice, performing manner, songs – simply everything make Beauty & Crime that album one could expect from this artist. However the obligatory share of novelty presence here too. This time it is expressed through the juxtaposition of acoustic guitar driven songs with coolly synthesized beats, like it was done on Unbound and Ludlow Street for instance. Another innovation here is a wide usage of strings and brass instruments, which can be found throughout the album.

Suzanne Vega doesn't have to compete with anybody

However, the basis of Beauty & Crime lies in the calm acoustic tracks with their unbelievable sincerity and unpretentious charm. The best numbers from this series are undoubtedly Anniversary and New York Is A Woman. The subject matters of the songs are quite depressing; Anniversary in particular is dedicated to the events of 9/11, but the music itself creates a pleasant atmosphere, there is no sense of misery, the songs rather carry a contemplative character. There are few nice rock driven pieces here too. Zephyr & I, for example. This is one of the most intensive songs of the album; it has both loud drums and a strong rhythmic presentation. But just like everywhere on this album the power of the song is diluted with Suzanne Vega's appeasing voice, which never looses a share of its seductive energy. Overall, Beauty & Crime appropriately suits Suzanne's discography, the album has both her recognizable style and a good share of novelty, which makes this record competitive among other releases of 2007. Yet, Suzanne Vega doesn't have a need to compete with anybody. Her songs were composed to touch a listener's heart, not to cause a commercial stir.

(14.06.2007)
Rate review4.20
Total votes - 10


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