Picks and Pans Review: Songs in Red & Gray
Don't call it folk music: This New York City native has outgrown her Phoebe Buffay streak with this varied and artful CD, a pop gem that will surprise listeners who had her pigeonholed in the dusty aisles of low-key, vaguely political music. On her first album since 1996, Vega's voice remains as near-childlike as in her 1987 breakthrough single "Luka," but it sounds as if it has been working out at the gym in these 13 revved-up songs.
Rich with visual imagery and musical nuance, "Widow's Walk," the first single, builds a hypnotic guitar pattern into a symphonic vamp. It's a story told by a woman who uses her seafaring husband's absence as a chance to take emotional inventory. Another track, "Machine Ballerina," gracefully matches a creaky, pump-organ accompaniment with lyrics like "Am I your Mad Magazine/ Skin trampoline/ Pin-up pinball machine?" The result is a lush yet meaningful sonic collage.
Bottom Line: Viva La Vega!