One of music’s most acclaimed singer/songwriters, Suzanne Vega, has crafted a stunning new collection of songs showcasing her trademark wit and poetic writing. Vega’s first new studio album in seven years, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles (Amanuensis Productions) features ten new songs each telling a story that has to do with the material world, the spirit world and how they intersect. “A lot of my older albums, especially the second one, was about being solitary,” says Vega. “This album has more of a sense of connectivity, there is a different spirit.”
Suzanne spent the past few year writing and performing these new gems on the road, recording portions in Chicago, London, Prague, LA and New York City, and Kyserike Station, an old train station in upstate New York. The album was produced by noted guitarist/producer Gerry Leonard, David Bowie’s musical director for over a decade and with whom Vega has worked since 2000, and features her longtime bass player Mike Visceglia and drummer Doug Yowell. Tracking for the album took place mostly at the Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck, and was mixed by Kevin Killen, who has worked with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.
Tales from the Realm taps into Vega’s broad range of musical tastes, intertwining Dylan/Stones-inspired guitar-driven songs such as “I Never Wear White” to lush orchestral strings and trumpet flourishes on “There is a Road” to soul-packed background vocals and Vega’s masterful classic folk elements. A longtime fan of hip hop as well, Vega samples the 50 Cent hit song “Candy Shop” for one of the more atmospheric tracks on the album, “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain.” This is Suzanne’s first sampling effort – although her song “Tom’s Diner” has been interpolated countless times in the hip-hop community, she has not sampled anyone else until this album.
For the first time on a studio recording, Suzanne has also assembled an illustrious group of musicians to accompany her including: Gail Ann Dorsey and Zachary Alford (David Bowie) on bass and drums for several tracks-a happy reunion as Suzanne and Zachary attended the same elementary school back in the 70’s in New York City; bass player Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel) on “I Never Wear White” and “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain;” drummer Jay Bellerose (T-Bone Burnett); and acoustic “wizard” Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan) who plays banjo, mandolin, and cymbal throughout the album.
Additional artists appearing include: Sterling Campbell (David Bowie, B52s) on drums for “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain” and “Laying on of Hands”; Alison Balsom, the virtuoso principal trumpet for the London Chamber Orchestra who is featured on “Road Beyond This One (Horizon) for Vaclav Havel” and background vocals from powerhouse singer Catherine Russell, known for her work with David Bowie and Paul Simon, among others. Lastly, the strings were recorded in the Czech Republic with the Smikov Chamber Orchestra.
Suzanne Vega Tales From The Realm Of The Queen Of Pentacles
1. Crack in the Wall
2. Fool's Complaint
3. I Never Wear White
4. Portrait of the Knight of Wands
5. Don't Uncork What You Can't Contain
6. Jacob and the Angel
7. Silver Bridge
8. Song of the Stoic
9. Laying on of Hands/Stoic 2
10. Horizon (There Is a Road)