The High Priestess

It's pretty amazing that I've never mentioned Suzanne Vega in this blog, because she's been a pretty constant presence in my entertainment universe. I like a wide range of music, but Suzanne Vega has always held a firm position in my top ten. I don't go to a lot of concerts, but always make an effort to see her when she's in town. I even went to two of her shows by myself, correctly guessing that I'd enjoy myself more if I didn't have to take other people's schedules/tastes/seating preferences into consideration. I made her autograph all her CDs for me, even though she was suffering from a strained wrist. I'm not sure if I'm getting my point across clearly, so let me sum up: I really love Suzanne Vega.

So when I found out she just released a new album, I was all over it. Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles is a mouthful, and a little bit Fiona Appley for a title. And since I'm a naturally anxious person, I always fret that each new album will be the stinkbomb; winning streaks can't last forever. I needn't have worried. Vega is as wonderful as ever, and I'm thrilled to add ...Queen of Pentacles to my collection.

As the title implies, there's kind of a tarot theme running through this album. There are songs titled "Fool's Complaint" and "Portrait of the Knight of Wands". Given how lyrical and portentous a lot of Vega's songs are, the theme dovetails nicely. You can easily envision the hopes and woes and grim truths the lyrics of these songs entail laid out by a fortuneteller. The music itself is nicely varied, as well. Some are up-tempo and energetic. Some are slow and pensive. There's even a little electronica thrown in.

The worst I can say about it (and I don't even mean this as a real criticism) is that it's very much in Vega's wheelhouse. If you listened to Songs in Red and Gray and Beauty & Crime, you'll already have a good idea of this album's style. If you've never been much of a fan, there's nothing here that will turn you around. But for those of us who have always enjoyed Suzanne Vega's music, this is a delightful addition to the canon.

Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles: A


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