Beauty & Crime
Released On: Jul 17, 2007
Released By: Blue Note
Suzanne Vega has always been an adventurous artist, stretching the boundaries of the singer-songwriter format. On Beauty & Crime, the Manhattan native uses New York City as the backdrop for a collection of eleven new songs that juxtapose acoustic guitardriven melodies with coolly synthesized beats. Intensely personal lyrics accompany compelling, short story-like narratives; images of today's scarred cityscape merge into memories from Vega's old Upper West Side 'hood and Lower East Side haunts. Her first new studio album in six years, Beauty & Crime is a revealing look into Vega's continual evolution as songwriter and recording artist. For newcomers, it affords an opportunity to discover a unique voice that has, much like fellow die-hard New Yorker Lou Reed's, been shaped by keenly observing urban life - glancing down the side streets and peering into the shadows, empathizing with the outsiders and dreamers, the helpless and the hopeful, but also seeking out the survivors and those cast aside and forgotten.
Beauty & Crime spans personal experiences of Vega's life. After meeting legendary graffiti artist, Zeyphr, she composed "Zephyr & I", a lean, upbeat, almost Velvet Underground-style rock arrangement, softened with layers of vocal harmonies by KT Tunstall. "Ludlow Street," her youth hangout in NYC, is a darker, more contemplative tune that features strings and synths and is about the layers of time that one can sense in a single spot. She includes a gentle, elegantly arranged song capturing an image of her daughter at age nine ("As You Are Now"), and a turbulent, string-driven number ("Bound") about the fated reunion with her second husband. Vega began working on Beauty & Crime at home and later British musician-producer Jimmy Hogarth(Sia, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall) came on board when Vega resumed work at larger studios in New York and London. As fascinating as the New Yorkers she has been inspired by, Vega herself is full of stories and surprises: the everyday revelations, the grabbed-on-the-run wisdom, the strange, random, miraculous stuff that make up a singular career - or maybe just another life in the big city.