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ALBUM REVIEW | ALTERNATIVE FOLK

Suzanne Vega, ‘Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles’

Suzanne Vega’s first studio record in seven years is a marvel of intelligent lyrics and folkish experimental textures. Vega’s background as a literature major shows as she digs deep into mythological lore — the album title refers to a Tarot card figure, as do songs from the gentle, guitar-looped “Portrait of the Knight of Wands” to the shimmering folk-pop of “Fool’s Complaint,” where Vega says she identifies more with the madcap Fool than with the Queen and her “domestic tyranny.” She also invokes a Book of Genesis story in “Jacob and the Angel.” It’s heady stuff lyrically, but the music is a sublime mix of styles from the anthemic “I Never Wear White” to the Led Zeppelin Middle Eastern flavor of “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain.” There’s even a track about child abuse, “Song of the Stoic,” recalling Vega’s 1987 hit, “Luka.” Producer Gerry Leonard (David Bowie’s longtime music director) imports other Bowie musicians plus Peter Gabriel bassist Tony Levin and former Dylan accompanist Larry Campbell. A great overall effort. (Out Tuesday)


Essential “I Never Wear White”

Suzanne Vega plays at the Sinclair on April 30.

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