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Wednesday, 07 November 2012 08:00

Falling in love with music: 'Songs in Red and Gray' by Suzanne Vega + Video

Falling in love with music: 'Songs in Red and Gray' by Suzanne Vega
Written by Kris Embry

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As if the title alone weren't indicative enough, a quick look at the cover art and it's easy to see that "Songs in Red and Gray" is an album with an autumn theme. It is the perfect soundtrack for a fall day, be it a bright, sun-dappled October afternoon or a dreary, rainy November morning.

Suzanne Vega is best known as the folk singer responsible for "Luka," or as the voice in the remix of the originally a cappella tune, "Tom's Diner." And while it's true that Vega's songs are typically anchored in her fingerpicked guitar playing and thoughtful, occasionally socially-conscious lyrics, such a characterization is an oversimplification of her music. Her arrangements are often moody and richly textured, and the collection of tunes on "Songs in Red and Gray" is no exception.

Although the album, at least in part, chronicles her divorce from producer Mitchell Froom, sonically it also marks the end of her relationship with Froom as producer, and it is somewhat of a return to the sound of her earliest recordings. The darker, gloomier songs found here are perfect for that rainy day; songs like "Soap and Water," where she sings, "slip me free of this wedding band," or "Widow's Walk." And for that sunny fall afternoon, there's the upbeat and playful "Last Year's Troubles," and "(I'll Never Be Your) Maggie May," a clever response to the Rod Stewart classic.

Vega's songs are evocative, emotional sketches of people, places and things. As a long-time fan of her music, I have always thought of "Solitude Standing," perhaps her best-known album, as the perfect soundtrack for an overcast day (as long as I can skip over "Luka," thank you). But "Songs in Red and Gray" is the perfect album for fall, regardless of the weather.

Discover more great autumn albums in our "Falling in Love With Music" series.

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