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Vega pursues life's themes

In the treacherous rollercoaster ride called the music industry it's tough to stay on the wagon without tipping a few times.

In the treacherous rollercoaster ride called the music industry it's tough to stay on the wagon without tipping a few times. However, Suzanne Vega is an artist that has weathered her share of falls and just keeps re-inventing herself, as evidenced by her 2009 CD release Love Songs, the first volume of a four-part series titled Closeup.

“A couple of years ago I found myself without a record deal and I looked at re-recording some of my older songs,” says Vega who will be performing at the Arden Theatre on Wednesday, March 3.

Not only was the folksinger without a major project in the works, but A&M Records possessed the masters from her biggest hits, tunes such as Luka and Tom's Diner that reached the Top 5 on Billboard charts.

Taking charge of her life, the die-hard New Yorker looked at all the story songs she'd written in a three-decade career as part of a bumper crop of female singer/songwriters that rose to prominence in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“The songs seemed to fall into four themes — love songs, people and places, states of being and family. There seems to be a lot of love songs,” she laughs.

Looking at the cover of Love Songs, Vega appears in a tranquil mood, sitting cross-legged on a windowsill strumming her guitar. While Vega's own life is a whirlwind of activity, the album comes across as calm and reflective.

Love Songs, Vega says, brings out all the elements of love and romance from the initial attraction and flirtation to the final confrontation.

The CD's oldest number, released in 1985 is Marlene on the Wall. It was written after staring at a photo of Marlene Dietrich in Vega's bedroom. “It's slower, more thoughtful. When I first recorded it, I was very nervous and it was fast.”

A long-time audience favourite is Caramel. “It's about forbidden love. Take one bite and you're never satisfied. You want the whole thing.”

Another love song whose popularity never diminished is the 1986 release Gypsy, a tune about a teenage summer romance. “But I also wanted people to rediscover some of my later songs, “ she says when describing Bound, written for husband Paul Mill on the 2007 album Beauty and Crime. “It was originally produced with strings and drums. We stripped it back and this is very stark, very real.”

Providing backup for the Wednesday concert is long-time bassist Mike Visceglia. For more information visit


Suzanne Vega<br />Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.<br />Arden Theatre<br />5 St. Anne Street<br />Tickets: $38. Call 780-459-1542 or go online to: