This Vanessa Carlton article was written by Adam Jones, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
It has been thirteen years since the memorable and uplifting Piano riff of ‘A Thousand Miles’ introduced Vanessa Carlton to the musical world. After that initial hit, Carlton acrimoniously split with A&R records over the musical direction of her second studio album. After another change of record label, and the birth of her first child, Carlton returns with her fifth studio offering, ‘Liberman’.
Following on from a four year absence, ‘Liberman’ does not disappoint. The strong Piano-driven melodies that first made her a star are abundant on this new record. Tracks like ‘Unlock the Lock’ and ‘Operator’ remain true to Carlton’s Piano-Pop roots. However, as a whole the album draws on wider influences to develop a more diverse musical direction. The album sees Carlton lyrically addressing a whole host of emotions. As a whole, these songs are incredibly reflective and musically quite creative.
Lead single, ‘Operator’, is a sound familiar to Carlton’s fans, but tracks like ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Matter of Time’ and ‘River’ see Carlton pushing her musical horizons beyond the sound typically associated with her (undoubtedly the optimistic Piano of ‘A Thousand Miles’). The album is lyrically very interesting and the musical highlight is the closing track ‘Ascension’. Building to a grand, yet understated conclusion, it reflects beautifully on both the majesty of nature and the fragility of life.
Even though some of the tracks aren’t necessarily memorable or groundbreaking, you can appreciate the quality of music on offer here. Carlton’s natural ability shines through on this selection of ten songs that showcases a kaleidoscope of emotions. In spite of this, Carlton’s songs remain (for the most part) fairly optimistic and upbeat, even with the beautifully macabre ‘Ascension’ closing the album. If you are a fan of Carlton’s earlier work, then you certainly won’t be disappointed with ‘Liberman’. Even if you weren’t a fan of her earlier songs, you still shouldn’t overlook this record. Carlton pushes herself on ‘Liberman’ and the quality and sincerity of the music she is able to create may well surprise people.
‘Liberman’ is available now via Dine Alone Records.