971 - Suzanne Vega 'Solitude Standing' (1987)

My Rating: 2.36 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): 2/11

Favourite Tracks: Language, Night Vision
Least-Favourite Track: Gypsy, Tom's Diner (Reprise)

It's hard to find anything all that objectionable here - this is a melodic collection of songs, well performed & well sung. I was expecting a typical solo singer-songwriter album, you know just one folky woman & her guitar, but this has much more of a group feel with crisp, full production throughout. On the downside, the production is rather 80's with lots of compression, flanged guitars & digital synth presets, which I guess was a (successful) way to move this into the mainstream market back in 1987. Listening to it twenty years on, I kept wishing the album had gone for a more organic feel, but that's got more to do with my own personal distaste of 80's production values (of which I will undoubtedly drone on endlessly elsewhere). Having said that, this is the first album in the top 1000 list that I haven't needed a lyric sheet in order to understand the words, so producer Steve Addabbo did a good job in that respect.

I read somewhere that Suzanne Vega was suffering from writer's block when making this record & so she utilised some of her older songs dating back to 1978. According to the Allmusic review these tracks are just as strong as the new ones & add to the diversity, but actually I found them to be by far the weakest things on the album. Early compositions like Calypso & Gypsy are rather naive, both lyrically & musically and simply don't have the depth or craftmanship of the later works. The instrumental home-organ style reprise of Tom's Diner also has 'filler' written all over it & having such a bland & uninspiring track to close out the album didn't make a fitting finale for what was largely a decent record.


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