Suzanne Vega plays Norwich UEA, 8 Feb; Cambridge Corn Exchange, 9 Feb; London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 11 Feb

If proof is needed of the lasting, innovative influence of Suzanne Vega in the 1990s, look no further than the recent Tori Amos number 1, "Professional Widow". It was Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner", mischievously reworked by DNA, that started the trend for serious songstress dance-remix collaborations.

Now Suzanne Vega is back with a post-marriage-and-baby album Nine Objects of Desire. The album glides with warmth and sophistication, and the experimentaion with jazz, bossa nova and clubby pop-rock, among other sounds, is very seductive. Suzanne is very much more at ease with herself, which is good mostly, but it does have a downside. Nothing on Nine Objects of Desire cuts quite as deep as "Marlena on the Wall" or "Luka", or captures the fierce melancholy of her earlier albums. But perhaps the 37-year-old is mostly grateful that, since the last album, 99.90 F, she is no longer a modern folk icon, as that courageous and acclaimed album dismayed the more traditionally minded of her fanbase. Like 99.90 F, Nine Objects of Desire was produced by husband Mitchell Froom, who has made the music's playful but intelligent mix of genres sit well with Vega's cool voice and observational, detached lyrics. She's at her best when her lyrics are more involved; "Lolita", for instance ("Hey girl, don't be a dog all your life, don't beg for for some little crumb of affection"). But songs like "Stockings" show she is still more at home being analytical, despite a yearning to be more sexy.

She's looking towards future change: following Courtney Love and Madonna, she is turning towards acting. So, seeing Suzanne live, rounding up the last nine years of her recording career, would be a very wise move indeed - while you still can.


No Doubt are the cream of US corporate alternative rock. We should loathe them. But they sound like the Smashing Pumpkins, the vocalist is prettier than Alanis Morrissette, and their new single "Don't Speak" looks like a top 5 chart hit.

Manchester University, 11 Feb; Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, 12 Feb; Sheffield Leadmill, 15 Feb, Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall, 16 Feb; London Astoria, 18 Feb