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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega

1985

Buy At Rough Trade
Suzanne Vega
Album Summary

Suzanne Vega is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, released on May 1, 1985, by A&M Records. It was well-received by music journalists in the U.S. and reached platinum status in the United Kingdom. Produced by Lenny Kaye and Steve Addabbo, the songs feature Vega's acoustic guitar in straightforward arrangements. A video was released for the album's song "Marlene on the Wall", which went into MTV and VH1's rotations. In 1989, Rolling Stone magazine listed Suzanne Vega at number 80 on its "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". It is also mentioned in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.03

Votes

11397

Genres

  • Folk
  • Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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View Author
Sun Feb 21 2021
2

i love luka and tom’s diner but this gives me strong....horse girl meets lilith fair vibes. i want to give it two stars cuz it makes me uncomfortable but i’m not the audience so i’m going 3. actually fuck it it’s my list i’m giving it 2

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Wed Oct 13 2021
3

She wrote some very intricate lyrics. Marlene on the Wall is a good example. I like how dynamic the musical shifts are in the lyrics in that song. The notes she sings are flying all around and it really works. Also, she's quite the story teller. The Queen and the Soldier is a good example. There are some neat things here instrumentally. The whacked out violin solo on Some Journey is quite good as is the jamming on Neighbour Girls although the guitars are mixed far in the background. Perhaps they were worried about what the neighbours would say.

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Thu Sep 17 2020
5

Absolutely amazing! Beautiful, poetic lyrics and lovely guitars. Perfect fall album. Favorite tracks: Cracking, Small Blue Thing, The Queen and the Soldier, Knight Moves

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Wed Oct 13 2021
5

Nice voice, catchy songs that are distinct enough from each other (eg Marlene on the Wall vs. The Queen and the Soldier) that you don’t tire of the album. Very NYC (Greenwich Village) folk sound. Lyrics are at another level. Like a female Leonard Cohen who can sing. An outstanding debut album.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
5

I listened to her music during my college days in the late 80s and enjoyed it. I didn't keep up with her after that, and haven't listened to her in a very long time. Re-hearing this album now, I'm admittedly a little surprised to find myself still quite drawn in. Her voice is ethereal and her songwriting is exquisite. Some beautiful work here.

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Fri Nov 06 2020
3

Vega has an interesting style that's unique with vibrant lyrics/stories, but the production between the talk-sing style and instrumentation doesn't always allow each track to shine. And, at times, the instrumentation drowns out the intimacy of her lyrics. The back half of the album provides more air for her voice and lyrics to breath especially on 'Some Journey' and 'The Queen and the Soldier'. There's definitely a Simon and Garfunkel / Bob Dylan / Leonard Cohen influence here. Tracks of notes: Marlene on the Wall, Undertow, Some Journey, The Queen and the Soldier (the standout).

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Thu May 27 2021
1

Childish lyrics, boring instrumentation, not a fan.

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Fri Jun 04 2021
5

5/5 - kinda like James Taylor; Marlene is a standout

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Mon Jul 11 2022
5

Beautifully arranged album, Suzanne Vega has a gorgeous, wistful, voice which lends itself perfectly to her fantastic guitar playing. You can definitely hear the influence artists like Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen have on her work.

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Thu Oct 27 2022
3

Acoustic fare. Very straightforward. I felt a few songs were a little too ... sophomoric (I'm looking at you, "The Queen & The Soldier). The songs that were with a band I actually liked more than just the plain acoustic guitar. It is a bit of a preface for her second album, which I think is a better choice for the 1001 albums. But they didn't ask me, did they?

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Thu May 16 2024
3

The lyrics are so odd: obvious, simple vocabulary, lots of basic nouns (love, king, Princess, bar, soldier, wall), little concrete, but assembled such that it confused me, which I decided I liked after two gos. The vocal themselves have a ticklish rhythm to them, and Marlene on the Wall has hook and tempo mostly missing from the rest, though the last song was fun. Weird, unlikely to return to, but glad to have paid attention.

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Thu May 16 2024
2

One of a very few contemporary albums I was aware of through my Dad's record collection. I thought this was quite boring back then, and it appears my original assessment still stands. Somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Laurie Anderson, but without the boldness of either. What's on here is fine (could have sworn "Left of Center" was included?) but doesn't really stick around (cf. my Dad, who didn't make it to "Solitude Standing", a much better album I recall)

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Fri Nov 12 2021
1

Very 80's sounding sort of confessional singer-songwriter. Her delivery is interesting, kind of half-sung, half spoken word. Honestly sounds very pretentious to me - first song being the worst example of this. I see a lot of comments saying this record is "bare" and "acoustic". I did not find that to be the case at all. The arrangements do sound kind of sparse but it mostly sounds like she's in a big empty room. Most of the songs have lots of little embellishments with other instruments (synths, electric guitars, etc) that are all very 80's sounding. To me this is more subtraction than addition. Might be more compelling if it were just her and an acoustic guitar. Maybe with less reverb or whatever makes it sound so sparse. Something to make it a bit more intimate sounding. But maybe that's just me.

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Fri Dec 30 2022
1

Like a coked up Sinead O'Connor without the coke or personality

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Wed Jun 07 2023
1

This has no redeeming features. One paced, crap lyrics, average vocals. Would get a pleasant polite applause at a Monday night open mic session down the pub.

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Wed Nov 01 2023
1

These are not songs. This is slam poetry read with music in the background. She titled the album her name so you didn’t think it was Fiona Apple. The titanic is sinking, we’re not gunna make it. Sorry Suzanne no room for you on the door. I could fall asleep to “Small Blue Thing” Pretty relaxing. Other than that I’m glad it was a short album so I can go back to listening to music. 2/10

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Thu Nov 02 2023
1

I am going to tell my kids this was Taylor Swift.

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Sat Sep 11 2021
5

Love this… ethereal folk with lyrics on real life feminism. Can’t beat Vega!

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

This grew on me a lot after the first impression being a bit proto rap spoken word waft.

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

Really nice voice with good melodies

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Mon Aug 29 2022
5

Soothing 80s folk. It is actually baffling how strong a start this is for her, as she really just nails putting out a beautiful, concise album.

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

I love this album so much. Suzanne’s voice is just stunning, and these melodies are just a huge part of my growing up. It’s genuinely Proustian - takes me back to teenage crushes and (longed for) romance. Just ace.

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

Suzanne Vega and I once shared a midnight kiss in Bruges. She breath stank of cigarettes and cabbage and she bit my lip so hard that a fountain of blood squirted into her eyes. I pushed her down the hill and never saw her again. Stupid bitch.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
5

The Queen and her Solider <3

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Fri Mar 10 2023
5

Calm and sincere. Right up my alley.

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Wed Jul 19 2023
5

Muyyyy bueno, inicialmente no me había atrapado tanto pero lo escuché una segunda ocasión poniendo atención completa y nmms las letras, es increíble y el sonido si es muy indie folk de antaño, pero es fantástico, su voz es tan dulce que uno no pensaría que tocaria temas tan profundos en sus letras pero lo hace y eso lo vuelve uno de los mejores álbumes por mujeres cantautoras.

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Wed Oct 11 2023
5

I've been building a playlist of music which came out in 1985 and Suzanne Vega's debut was listed as an album to check out. In the middle of post-punk and synth pop, this one is a bit of an outlier. I had recently listened and quite enjoyed it. So when this popped up, I got excited and it felt very timely. In all honesty, I think this is one of the best albums I've heard in while. Suzanne Vega's music captures a certain delicate intensity that feels unique and uncomfortable. I really like the instrumentation with the subtle use of synth and her vocal style. I realize it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I believe this holds a ton of weight.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

Great vibes, really solid album 5/5

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Thu Oct 26 2023
5

- That is one COMPLETELY new album. Have never heard of this lady before. - There's a lot from her sound that makes me think of the 90's and early 00's female singers. There's some Cranberries and Alanis Morrissette in there. - Pretty damn cool!

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Sat Dec 23 2023
5

9/10 absolutely wonderful poetry and beautiful instrumentals — a really really great album

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Sun Jan 14 2024
5

Seeing the cover with the song titles on it, I scanned for "Tom's Diner" and it wasn't on there? That is to say, I may not have consciously heard any other song by Suzanne Vega, ever and: this is very nice! Thank You, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Halfways in (skipping around a bit), favourite so far "Small Blue Thing"

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Thu Feb 01 2024
5

My favourite singer-songwriter album on this list so far. She has a beautiful voice and it works great on this style of folk music. Stand-out: Marlene On The Wall

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

Incredibly lovely album. So many great hooks combined with great storytelling and impeccable guitar playing. An all time great

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Fri Feb 09 2024
5

Familiar sound and voice. Enjoyed it because the lyrics were personal, and the narrative of each song reflects this. I would put this on a playlist..

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Sun Mar 03 2024
5

Instantly one of the best albums of 1985. Suzanne Vega’s debut is a work of pure beauty; the intricate lyrics, the Pastorius-like bass and flawless songwriting. As Joni Mitchell used the 80’s to dig into the trends of pop music, Vega stood ready to take over. I was getting ready to listen to some more albums today. I might just end up putting “Small Blue Thing” on repeat.

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Sun Mar 03 2024
5

I have a playlist where I add songs I like from this list. This is the first time, where I knew none of the songs and wanted to add almost every single one to the playlist. Suzanne Vega makes it all seem so easy, from the Joni Mitchell influenced unpredictable melodies to the almost British folktale outings on side 2. Delightful.

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Mon Mar 04 2024
5

Another unexpected brilliant album. The story telling on this puts me in mind of Taylor Swift. I love a song that tells a tale.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

“It’s a one time thing it just happens a lot.” The first words I ever heard from Suzanne Vega hold a very special place for me, having first heard them in 1986 sitting alone in a dark room. Those words immediately became a permanent phrase in my library of self talk, still surfacing in my consciousness on a nearly weekly basis. I love this beautiful, understated album and the artist who created it. Every song on this is very special to me. I’m glad it’s here.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

I remember thinking when this came out that the lyrics were super weird. I just thought they were lovely today. Top notch.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

First time listener for this album. That statement has me raising some questions about myself…

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

This one takes me right back to my dorm room my first year in college, where I used to listen to it a lot. It's one I haven't listened to in years and years, yet it was so comfortably familiar. I love these songs and Vega's voice. It’s a little less polished than her later, more famous work, but I love that I was all in from the beginning.

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Thu Mar 28 2024
5

Way cooler than I even expected. The only Suzanne Vega songs I'd heard before were Tom's Diner and Luka, but this music was much more driving and acoustically folksy than I expected. Great bass sound on a lot of these tracks, awesome vocals throughout, of course, and some great acoustic guitar riffs. The lyrics are very expressive, imaginative and evocative. Such great storytelling in The Queen and the Soldier and Knight Moves. Such a pure and beautiful voice and lots of minor keys that sound really cool when she sings. Great recording quality and crisp sounding instruments, lovely ambience. All of the songs were so good I listened to the album twice. Five stars easily.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
5

a very beautiful soft folk album. compared to vega's more experimental ventures later in her discography, her debut is somber, sweet, and just... it's a very relaxing album for a rainy day. listening to the album made me just long for better days.

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Tue Apr 02 2024
5

This is my jam. I knew the name but never listened. Right in the sweet spot for me in terms of music. Definitely going to check out others from her catalogue

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Wed Apr 10 2024
5

Last.fm tells me I listened to this once in 2013 and not since, so I guess it didn't make much of an impression, or I wasn't paying much attention. 🤷 Really liked it this time around, and definitely plan to revisit! It's got that mellow dreamy vibe I value in singer songwriters. Fave tracks - I liked the flow of "The Queen and the Soldier" going into "Knight Moves"

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Wed Apr 10 2024
5

When I saw this I thought oh good I like Suzanne Vega but hadn't listened to this debut. When Marlene On The Wall kicked in I immediately when to my music collection to see why I knew this song and it turns out that the two Suzanne Vega albums I have are 99.9F and Tried and True (which is a best of). The three tracks I already knew are fantastic songs, Marlene On The Wall, Small Blue Thing, The Queen And The Soldier. Overall it's a great album and certainly deserves more listens.

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Mon Jun 10 2024
5

Album 436 of 1001 Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega Rating : 5 / 5 An old favorite. Came across this a year or so after it's release, during college. Wish I could recall who introduced me to it as it was a bit of a turn from what I was listening to, at the time. I've since shared it with several others who also claim it to be one they still enjoy. Extra point just for being connected with good memories.

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Tue May 04 2021
4

Soft voice, with soft lines and accompanying tunes

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

Nice barebones folk album, great mix and sound

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Sun Mar 14 2021
4

I really enjoyed this, was expecting something like Joni Mitchell, much closer to Cohen and like an acoustic-only Tigermilk, really short but satisfying "Marlene on the Wall" was the best track but a lot of cool storytelling here!

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Wed May 05 2021
4

The artistry of her poetry is magnificent. It transcends its pretensions, and it perfectly suited to the folk rock backing.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Well, never thought I'd enjoy such a folk-pop/rock album as I enjoyed this one. It's got repeat value.

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Fri Feb 05 2021
4

Tres belle voix, lignes de basses smooth et envoûtantes Coups de coeur Marlene on the Wall et Knight Moves

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Sun Jul 04 2021
4

Tres bon, auteure compositrice interprete. Me fait penser a joni mitchell parfois. Je reecoute. 4.5

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Wed May 12 2021
4

Guitarra y voz. Canciones melancólicas.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Yllättävän nykyaikaiselta kuulostavaa kamaa. En olisi arvannut levyn olevan vanhempi kuin minä itse! Olisi mennyt läpi ihan tuoreenakin teoksena.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Hyvää settiä. Tiesin vaan joskus englanninkirjassa olleen Tom's Dinerin, ja sen perusteella odotin vähän erilaista kamaa. Positiivinen yllätys!

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Hyvää nainen ja kitara meinikiä. Tätä kuuntelee mielellään! Kolme ja puoli pyöristettäköön tällä kertaa neloseksi.

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Mon Jun 14 2021
4

Weird but good. Twin peaks referent

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Thu Apr 15 2021
4

Like it - well constructed songs, good voice and band

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Surprisingly good album with great story telling

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Not bad - reminded me of Paul Simon, lyrically interesting, musically subtle - Nice.

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Tue May 18 2021
4

Super easy listening, solid album.

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Thu May 13 2021
4

Ah, así que esto es lo que escuchó Mitski para dedicarse a la música. Agradecido con el de arriba.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
4

Somehow it's very 80s, yet still mellow. The first tracks were almost uncomfortable to listen to for this reason. But it's so good! Faves: Marlene On The Wall, Small Blue Thing, Undertow

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Sun Aug 15 2021
4

Aangename luistermuziek, maar ook niet meer dan dat

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Tue Aug 17 2021
4

Good album with a bunch of hits!

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Wed Sep 08 2021
4

The music sounded great. 0RS

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

First of all, this album does not sound or feel like it was made in 1985. Second of all, the mid-90s success of female singer/songwriters owe a TON to this woman. Shawn Colvin, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and even Sinead O'Connor. I hear Suzanne Vega in all of them. I like the songs where the acoustic guitar takes the lead more than some of the other synthesizer sounds. I love cracking, small blue thing, and undertow in particular for the guitar parts and for how intimate the lyrics feel. It might not be in my list of favorite female singer/songwriter albums of all time but it’s certainly responsible for them so 4 stars seems appropriate.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

I am not at all familiar with Suzanne Vega, but I could instantly tell how much she paved the way for the singer-songwriters and alt folk of the 90s. I'm amazed that this came out in 1985. Vega won me over with her sometimes slightly off-kilter style paired with interesting guitar picking and arrangements. Lyrically interesting as well. Again, her influence on the entire Lilith generation is very clear. On her self-titled debut, "Cracking," "Small Blue Thing," and "Undertow" stand out. I wanted to know why I didn't know any Suzanne Vega, so I looked deeper and found that "Tom's Diner" was her most famous song. So I listened to that from her second album. I said "I know this song! But not this way??" The remixed version with DNA, which I discovered was the version I knew well, is so much better. The second song from her sophomore effort, "Luka," also sounded super familiar, but I don't know that song? It must really remind me of some similar song? @hell-yeah - No idea how this puts a person to sleep any more than "Five Leaves Left."

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Sun Oct 17 2021
4

Great album. Amazing guitar & voice register from Suzanne

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Thu Oct 28 2021
4

A solid, warm album of great songwriting detail. Now, I have only heard the album once, and with such an album, where the subtleties are the point, I believe one listen probably isn't sufficient for a full assessment and appreciation. As such, my current take is tentative and provisional. I may in future consider this a 5-starrer, but I may equally retain it at 4 stars.

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Wed Jan 26 2022
4

I think the only Vega I've ever heard before is 'Tom's Diner' so this was a great chance to broaden my horizons a bit. Musically straightforward but remains gripping through a combination of perfectly-pitched vocals and hynotic, poetic lyrics. 'The Queen and The Soldier' was the album highlight for me.

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Fri Feb 18 2022
4

I love how stripped down a lot of this is. I've never listened to Suzanne Vega before but I am interested in digging deeper. Favorites: Marlene on the Wall, The Queen and the Soldier, Neighborhood Girls

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Mon Mar 28 2022
4

I recall this album sounding revolutionary on its release, a very different take on the sound of a singer-songwriter. It got heavy airplay on my radio show, with standout tracks like Small Blue Thing, Undertow, Knight Moves, and the single Marlene on the Wall. This debut still stands atop her catalog, in my opinion. That said, I think the emotional distance of the storytelling dims some of its appeal over the years. Solid tracks, but no longer one which stands up to full listens.

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Fri Apr 01 2022
4

surprisingly modern-sounding indie folk pop pop with some synth. simplistic but I don't mind

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Wed Jun 01 2022
4

A friend of mine recommended this album back when it was released and at the time I hadn't listened to a lot of female artists I enjoyed, since most of the bands I followed were your typical white male-lead groups/singers. I have to admit, I half gave it a listen because Suzanne looked so cute on the album cover (yes, I do sometimes judge the record by the cover). It was low-key folk and her voice and the music caught my attention immediately. The songs were interesting and this was something that was missing from my musical palate up to this point. I can't say I'm a big Suzanne Vega fan, though her second album was commercially successful with her two best known songs (Tom's Diner and Luka), but I really didn't care for her music as much as her debut. Luka is a great song, though I prefer the Lemonheads cover version, but maybe that's what makes the first album so good, there are no hits, no pretension or expectation. I still spin this record occasionally and I'm glad my buddy, Ben recommended I buy it.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
4

Nice enough album. Marlene on the wall is the stand out track.

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Fri Jun 03 2022
4

Pretty cool swing and lyrical delivery. Nice acoustic stylings in a straight ahead, not presumptuous manner.

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Wed Jun 08 2022
4

I quite liked this. I don’t really know her music beyond the few tunes that made it to MTV, but this was more moody and enjoyably lo-fi, quieter than I anticipated. All in good ways. The opening track, “Marlene on the wall,” “undertow,” etc. I would listen to this again and just think about her thinking about Andy’s tweet about her hair. Amazing.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
4

Didn’t expect to like it this much, it bangs tho

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Fri Jun 24 2022
4

Fav songs: - Knight Moves - Small Blue Thing

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Sun Jun 26 2022
4

Loved the vocals here. Favorites: "Cracking", "Marlene On The Wall", "Some Journey"

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