May 27, 1985 12:00 PM

Suzanne Vega

Since Bob Dylan’s landmark decision to electrify his performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, traditional folk music has been fighting a losing battle to keep a toehold in the mainstream. The debut album from Suzanne Vega marks such an unexpected victory for folkies. The talented singer-songwriter from New York makes her finger-picked acoustic guitar and pining vocals seem invigoratingly fresh. Producers Lenny Kaye (former guitarist for the Patti Smith Group) and Steve Addabbo help to spruce up Vega’s vocal style, especially on Small Blue Thing and Cracking. She has a tendency to pile up images too thickly in her lyrics. But there is a thoroughly modern aggressiveness to Vega’s outlook, unlike the bleeding heart romanticism of a lot of singer-songwriters of the ’60s era. None of her songs is exactly joyous in the old flower-child mode, though many are quite beautiful. Her poise and promise overall make the LP reminiscent of the mournful and evocative debut of Joni Mitchell. (A&M)

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