Over 20 years into her storied career, singer Suzanne Vega shows that she remains one of the freshest voices in popular music today with the release of Beauty & Crime, her seventh album and her debut for Blue Note Records.
Revolving around the theme of New York, the city where Vega was raised and still lives, the 11 original songs on Beauty & Crime present Vega's signature poetry and folk-pop songcraft illuminated by lush orchestral arrangements that are juxtaposed against cutting-edge beats.
From the driving opener "Zephyr & I," which recounts a conversation with the seminal graffiti artist while strolling down West End Avenue, to the ghosts of Lower East Side haunts depicted in "Ludlow Street," to "New York is a Woman," which personifies the city as a hard-luck lady whose beauty still shines, Vega captures the spirit of her hometown's past, present and future. The album also includes two of her most personal songs yet, a love song for her husband ("Bound") and a dedication to her daughter ("As You Are Now").
The sessions, recorded in both New York and London, were produced by Jimmy Hogarth (Sia, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall), mixed by Tchad Blake, and included an eclectic cast including orchestral arranger Will Malone (Dido, Seal, Corrine Bailey Rae), background vocalist and vocal arranger KT Tunstall, guitarists Gerry Leonard (David Bowie) and Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), bassist Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith), as well as members of Vega's touring band, bassist Mike Visceglia, and drummer Doug Yowell.
With the release of her self-titled debut on A&M Records in 1985, Vega began paving a path for an entire generation of female singer-songwriters to follow in the 1990s. Her 1987 album Solitude Standing established her as an international star, first with its surprise hit "Luka," and again later when UK electronic dance duo DNA released a remixed version of the a cappella "Tom's Diner" (the song has since been remixed upwards of 25 times). Vega's other albums include Days of Open Hand (1990), 99.9 F° (1992), Nine Objects of Desire (1996), and Songs in Red and Gray (2001).