The first in a proposed four-volume collection of intimate re-recordings of Suzanne Vega’s catalog, Close Up, Vol. 1 focuses on Vega’s love songs, which means that her two biggest hits, “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner,” are nowhere to be heard. The best-known tune here may be “Marlene on the Wall,” a song from her 1985 debut, which indicates that this is a bit of a crate-digging exercise, reaching deep into various corners from throughout her career. Vega’s new arrangements are anchored on acoustics but not strictly stripped naked: there are other guitars, sometimes electrics, along with traces of bass and percussion, enough to give this some texture and shade but not enough to distract from the songs themselves, all of which are nicely chosen and warmly delivered. There are no radical reinterpretations, only unadorned readings that reveal the sound structure of her readings and her sly, subtle singing.
Close-Up, Vol. 1: Love Songs Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine