Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Suzanne Vega 3: Days Of Open Hand

For her third album, Suzanne stuck with the formula, working mostly with her touring band and using Shawn Colvin for the occasional harmony. Days Of Open Hand has too many keyboards and electric elements to be called folk, but it’s not quite pop either. It was, however, worth the wait.
For the most part, the songs seem to be positive, beginning with the determination of “Tired Of Sleeping”. That emotion continues on “Men In A War”, which does a whole lot with two chords. “Rusted Pipe” revives some of the quirky feeling from the first two albums, while “Book Of Dreams” is straight pop; she herself admits she was going for an XTC sound. “Institution Green” is the first political tune on the album, alluding at something terminal that turns out to be the mundane process of voting.
“Those Whole Girls (Run In Grace)” is an interesting exercise on brevity, spoken in three syllables at a time, conjuring up a twisted jump-rope melody, a city observation reinforced on “Room Off The Street”. “Big Space” sports an annoyingly dated keyboard sound, but otherwise hearkens back to the debut. “Predictions” doesn’t really go anywhere, being mostly a litany of arcane and current methods of prognostication, so it’s interesting on that level. A tense Philip Glass string arrangement drives “Fifty-Fifty Chance”, about a suicide attempt, presenting a dynamic pause before “Pilgrimage”, which ends the album with something of a grand finale.
She’d never really have a “hit” again, but at least Days Of Open Hand would satisfy her fans. It’s a nice album to have on in the background while drinking coffee or tea in the privacy of your home, if you have one.

Suzanne Vega Days Of Open Hand (1990)—

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