Suzanne Vega Good sound, brilliant songwriting and singing. Raw, acoustic, what more could one ask for.
Solitude Standing More of a processed pop song, but voice is better recorded her and the sound is enthrallingly smoky and haunting. A bit light on material (hence only 2 stars).
Days of Open Hand Perhaps the weakest of her albums (she starts playing a Fairlight CMI), or rather, I was not comfortable with the new-agish direction she was taking [theres a collaboration with Philip Glass] Too much synthesiser.
99.9 F Change to a grungier, but acoustic, sort of sound. Wonderful album, very different, showing her ability to innovate.
9 Objects of Desire Suzanne Vega maturing after marriage and childbirth? She mellows here, but the voice and songwriting are still brilliant. Best sounding Suzanne Vega album.
Sessions at West 54th Suzanne Live and reprising her old hits with modern day sound quality? Too good to be true :)
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
(I don't rate LDs) If I need to listen to 'Left of Centre', I'll have to listen to the laserdisc since I don't have the Pretty in Pink soundtrack

Yes, it all started in 1987, when my classmate passed me a dubbed tape containing the top 10 hits of the day (and in 1985, they were dubbed from LPs not CDs). For some reason (he's no neo-folk fan himself), he dubbed Gypsy onto the tape (along with Luka, which was a hit at that time). I listened to it (at that time it should have been a Panasonic tape deck, Denon amp and Wharferdale speakers :)) and was entranced by Suzanne's hypnotic voice. I had heard Luka on the radio quite a lot, but to me it was no big deal. Gypsy, on the other hand, was probably a life changing moment :)

All her albums are great, though I do not care for Days of Open Hand much. Of course, Days of Open Hand was a Stereophile Record to Die For, showing that theres no accounting for others' tastes (said very tongue-in-cheekly).

Solitude Standing is an audiophile favourite in Singapore. The recording quality is slightly above average, but it shines because its primarily acoustic (synths are present, but not to the excesses found in other '80s music), and more importantly, it is a showcase for the unique Suzanne Vega voice; described as variously as 'etheral' & 'smoky', like the siren which she sings about in 'Calypso', Suzanne's voice really draws the listener into the music. You do not merely listen to it, you experience it.

Her eponymously title first album is the music lovers favourite. A lot of people are drawn mysteriously to 'Marlene on the Wall' and Suzanne's masterly fusion of poetry & music can be heard in 'Queen & the Soldier'. On the other hand, people new to neo-folk in general and also awed by the elegant simplicity of the spoken word and plucking of the guitar in 'Cracking/Freeze Tag'.

How exactly does one describe what neo-folk is? Folk music, by one definition, is music passed on in the oral tradition from one generation to the other. But 'folk' generally seems to suggest a more 'acoustic' type of sound, almost invariably involving acoustic guitars. ['Bluegrass', then gets pidgeonholed as the fiddle and the banjo]

For Suzanne Vega's brand of music, one must note the strength of her song-writing. Intelligent, powerful lyrics. Written from experience and observation. Words that speak to the listener. But sure, this isn't new. Joni Mitchell & Bob Dylan were doing this long ago. So perhaps Suzanne's sudden popularity was 'right place at the right time', i.e., a reaction against the excesses of a music industry (led by Stock, Aitken & Waterman, no doubt) embracing the 'synthesised-formularised-pop' sound, which consisted of repeating a catchy chorus ad infinitum (depending on the type of remix).

I would definitely recommend the first album to every one as it captures, perhaps, the essence of Suzanne Vega's craft. The next up would be Solitude Standing is it contains 'Gypsy' and the hit 'Luka', however, audiophiles may wish to get Sessions at West 54th as it contains many songs in SS but with better sound quality. Fans will of course get both.

Suzanne Vega's own website. Very cool