Suzanne Vega: RetroSpective: The Best of Suzanne Vega

5 star (out of 5).

Suzanne Vega is, I suspect, a lot like a dram of Scotch Whisky. You either love it or hate it. And if, in fact, Suzanne Vega was a dram of Scotch Whisky, she would be a single malt: Dalwhinnie, to be specific.

"Why?", you may ask? (Or you may ask, "Why has be been dipping into the Dalwhinnie so early on a Saturday morning?")

"Dalwhinnie is a barren and isolated spot... completely self-contained.", writes the Edinburgh Malt Whisky Tour site. "Since 1898, the distillery has stood on this ravaged moorland, isolated and buffeted by the weather... Yet it is from this most hostile of environments that the gentlest and purest Highland Malt is produced... Such pureness of water imparts a soft, whispery finish..." This from no less impeachable a source than the Scubidu Pub. (Sound it out. Strange, but true.)

"Barren", "isolated", "self-contained" -- "ravaged", "gentlest and purest", "soft, whispery finish". Suzanne Vega is a fine dram of Dalwhinnie. And I, for one, love it. In fact, despite the wide variety of settings in this collection, from the funky DNA mix of Tom's Diner, to the sultry Caramel, to the live, acoustic The Queen and the Soldier, to Mitchell Froom's outrageously overproduced Woman on the Tier (I'll See You Through) (from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack), there's nothing here I don't like, no cut I skip past.

If there's one song, though, that seems to characterize the whole collection, it's the self-reflective Small Blue Thing:

Today I am
A small blue thing
Like a marble
Or an eye

With my knees against my mouth
I am perfectly round
I am watching you

I am cold against your skin
You are perfectly reflected
I am lost inside your pocket
I am lost against
Your fingers

I am falling down the stairs
I am skipping on the sidewalk
I am thrown against the sky

I am raining down in pieces
I am scattering like light
Scattering like light
Scattering like light

Today I am
A small blue thing
Made of china
Made of glass

I am cool and smooth and curious
I never blink
I am turning in your hand
Turning in your hand
Small blue thing

Set simply and perfectly, it is a dram of Dalwhinnie in a crystal cup. Gentle, pure, and a soft, whispery finish.

[GET IT]

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