Picks and Pans Review: Days of Open Hand
Vega all but created the neo-folkie movement in 1987 with her LP Solitude Standing, which paved the way for Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked and others. The waiflike singer injected a darker vision of folk into the pop mainstream.
This album offers a collection of alternately surefooted and vague songs. At her best, as on songs like "Tired of Sleeping" and "Men in a War," Vega is delicate and lyrical. Anton Sanko's moody organ and Marc Shulman's precise guitar riffs help define Vega's esoteric sound. Yet in other tunes, such as "Predictions," Vega shows a repetitiveness that is like an absentminded carpenter running sandpaper over the same spot, eventually wearing down the finish. An obvious choice for a single, "Book of Dreams," seems like a blatant cash-in on "Luka," her hit from Solitude Standing.
It's too early to dismiss that album as a stroke of good luck, but Vega hasn't yet displayed the power to stay in the groove. (A & M)