Personnel: Suzanne Vega (vocals, acoustic guitar); Gerry Leonard (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Doug Yowell (percussion); Ruby Froom (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Joe Blaney.
Liner Note Author: Suzanne Vega.
Recording information: Avatar Studios; One East Recording, New York, NY.
Photographer: Mary Rozzi.
Arrangers: Gerry Leonard ; Mike Visceglia.
The second installment of Suzanne Vega's four-part thematically arranged intimate re-recordings of her catalog is People & Places, a concept that allows for the inclusion of her two biggest hits, "Luka" and "Tom's Diner." Both are here, given austere arrangements that are emblematic of the entirety of the album. Much of this is spare enough to suggest that the album contains nothing but Vega and her guitar, but these are not solo re-recordings -- they're tastefully colored with strings, electric guitars, and light percussion, subtly changing the feel of some songs but not the intent. Apart from selections from the densely produced 99.9 Fø, there are no great reinterpretations of Vega's work and even those three don't feel drastically different, just unadorned, fitting the "Close-Up" concept quite well. Curiously, the entire Close-Up project sidesteps nostalgia, and not just because Vega finds space to include a new song, "The Man Who Played God," co-written with the late Mark Linkous and Danger Mouse, here. She may be revisiting her past but she's not attempting to re-create it, and this clear-eyed, unsentimental attitude goes a long way toward making these records work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Record Collector (magazine) (p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "What shines through is Vega's talent as a storyteller, be it as the first-person little boy at the centre of 'Luka' and the detached observer making snap judgments about strangers in 'Tom's Diner.'"