The other day I heard the new song “Wide-Eyed, Legless” by singer-songwriter Laura Veirs, and it made me think of Suzanne Vega’s 1986 single “Left of Center.” In the verses of both songs, a female singer’s voice bounces along a rhythm, almost chanting the words. And in both songs, the singer slows down her phrasing and gets more melodic on the chorus but never gives in to full-bodied singing. In both songs, the singer sounds more than a little emotionally detached. The effect is like meeting a woman who knows exactly how smart and talented she is and who doesn’t particularly care if you like her or not.
I don’t want to make too much of the similarity: Veirs and Vega are very different songwriters. But I do wonder if there would be a place for someone like Veirs today had Vega not paved the way.
This year, Vega is marking the 25th anniversary of her career as a solo artist with a solo acoustic tour. She also has a new acoustic album, Close Up Vol. 1, Love Songs, in which she reinterprets some of her classics such as “Marlene on the Wall.” If you go to her website, you can hear an acoustic version of her 1987 hit “Luka.” In the many years since its release, the song — sung from the point of view of an abused child — has lost none of its power. And as she showed with 2007’s Beauty & Crime (an album-length meditation on post-9/11 New York), she has lost none of her skill in making personal, melodic, and memorable music out of the kinds of weighty topics that would have bogged down a lesser talent.
SUZANNE VEGA: The Loft, Tuesday, February 16, 8 p.m. (sold out) and 10 p.m. 858-534-8497. $26.