Exclusive: Suzanne Vega streams entire new album online ahead of release

The legendary lyricist reveals 'Tales from the Realms of the Queen of Pentangles' - and a self-penned track-by-track guide - for the first time

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The Independent Culture

Suzanne Vega has streamed her entire new album, Tales from the Realms of the Queen of Pentangles, exclusively online ahead of its official release date on 3 February.

Scroll down to listen to the stream and read Vega’s track-by-track in full

The legendary singer-songwriter has unveiled 10 new songs, each of which tells a story on the merging of the material and spiritual world, she writes.

The eclectic tracks range from guitar-driven, atmospheric soundscapes to classic folk. Meanwhile, “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain” sees Vega experiment with sampling for the first time – that sample rather randomly being rapper 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop”.

"I had kernels of songs recorded mostly on my iPhone – recordings with melodies, lyrics, notes and pieces of ideas," Vega says of the making of the album. "Gerry Leonard [producer, David Bowie] and I began getting together once a week in my manager’s office in New York City to tease out and solidify these ideas. We did this for about a year.

"We then tried the songs out on the road, adjusting the songs every night depending on how they felt live. Every night Gerry and I made changes to lyrics, melodies, keys, tempos and arrangements. "I Never Wear White" has proven itself to be a crowd favorite night after night whether we are playing in Arkansas or Tokyo."

Track-By-Track, by Suzanne Vega

“Crack in the Wall”

S: “This is a parable about how wanting too much materially leads to loss. But can be redeemed!”

“Fool’s Complaint”

S: “The Fool is free from possessions, but complains about the Queen of Pentacles, who can be nurturing, but also greedy. She comes from the world of Tarot; she is the Queen of the material world including coins (wealth), bodily health and pleasures, and earthly possessions.”

“I Never Wear White”

S: “It’s true. Here are some reasons why. Maybe you feel the same. I don’t mind if you wear it.”

“Portrait of the Knight of Wands” 

S: “Trying to figure out a friend’s terrible mood. Normally the Knight of Wands is a fiery and optimistic character so this really was a bad day for him.”

“Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain”

S: “Good advice! Or is it? A few tales that illustrate both sides.”

“Jacob and the Angel”

S: “A retelling of the story from the Bible.”

“Silver Bridge”

S: “A true story of the death of someone dear and how it seemed I saw where he had passed over.”

“Song of the Stoic”

S: “If “Luka” grew to be a man who worked say, as a roadie, this could be his story.”

“Laying on of Hands”

S: “A wry look at the times we live in. I think of The Hugging Saint and the police activity from the Occupy Wall Street movement when I think of this title.”

“There Is A Road (Horizon) for Vaclav Havel”

S: “The first verse is my own point of view. I have always been moved by the life of Vaclav Havel and the second verse encapsulates his life to the best of my ability.”

Suzanne Vega's Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentangles will be out on Cooking Vinyl on 3 February 2014