Suzanne Vega concludes her series of albums reexamining her songbook with Close-Up, Vol. 4: Songs of Family, and given the album's themes, it's appropriate that this is the most spare and intimate installment in this mostly acoustic series. These 14 songs all deal with familial relationships, albeit in many different ways, from a sly contemplation of her marriage ("Honeymoon Suite") to studying the emotional fallout of her divorce ("Soap and Water"), from meeting her biological father for the first time ("Pilgrimage") to revisiting the neighborhood where she grew up ("Ludlow Street"), while also finding room to celebrate her love for her daughter ("World Before Columbus") and the grim tale of another child whose relationship with her folks is not as rosy ("Bad Wisdom").
In 1985, singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega released her stunning self-titled debut album. 25 years and 7 million albums sold later, Suzanne is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation. Now Suzanne is reinterpreting a majority of her catalog in a close and personal manner, creating 4 new thematic albums that will be released over 2010-2011. States of Being has Suzanne revisiting her most haunting songs. Suzanne used to call these the "Mental Health" songs. They express a state of mind, but also more than that; Suzanne says, "they are descriptions of a place deep inside. Anyone can feel like the narrator in Penitent, or Cracking, depending on your mood". Vol. 3 also includes a brand new song, a collaboration with Duncan Sheik from Suzanne's upcoming play, "Carson McCullers Talks About Love".
Back in the mid-80s, when folk music was in the doldrums, a New York-based acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter was hailed as the scene's new saviour, thanks to her cool, classy songs and often highly personal lyrics. Whether "folk" was the right description for Suzanne Vega is of course debatable, for there were few traditional influences in much of her work, but she deservedly sold millions of albums and notched up hits with Luka and Tom's Diner..
Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega is essentially A&M's updated version of their 1999 issue, The Best of Suzanne Vega: Tried and True, adding "Tired of Sleeping" from Vega's Days of Open Hand, "Calypso" and "Solitude Standing" from Solitude Standing, "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May" and "Penitent" from the 2001 recording Songs in Red and Gray, and "Woman on the Tier (I'll See You Through)" from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack. Unfortunately, A&M chose to drop "Book and Cover" from the track listing, which was only previously available on The Best of Suzanne Vega: Tried and True, but the overall collection feels a little bit more hearty with a total of 21 tracks instead of 17.