Suzanne Vega: Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles

Vega

The new Suzanne Vega album is built around a tarot theme. The Knight of Wands, the Fool, and, of course the titular Queen of Pentacles appear in this collection. There are also off-cycle songs, including a retelling of a Biblical story (“Jacob and the Angel“). Vega often gets accused of making the same album– steely, aloof singing and gentle folk with rock and electronic flourishes.  The real star, of course, her lyrics. Vega is one of the true poets of pop music, and each song has meticulously crafted language, full of wit and beauty. Vega’s voice treats each phrase as if it were a precious jewel. Her melodies never meander; she has a healthy respect for form. TFTROTQOF, like all of Vega’s work, make me feel like I’ve finished reading a deckle-edged short story collection, set in an elegant serif font.

Marissa Nadler: July

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The doom-laden folk of Nadler conjures up images of ghostly girls, garbed in diaphanous lace gowns, old Victorian houses mouldering in ruin, and faded, sepia-tinged daguerreotypes.  The songs, even those set in the present day, are full of expertly culled minor keys, reverbed guitars, and her lush mezzo-soprano voice. Her lyrics are literate, but they are not the point. The point is the sultry funereal atmosphere. It’s a dark jewel of an album.