I've always liked Vanessa Carlton's albums. She's pop, but she has her own unique sound. Almost every song sounds like a climax to a musical (not that I've ever seen any besides the South Park movie). She's a singer/songwriter that has a very dramatic piano heavy sound that seems very influenced by her dancer background. You can picture some classically trained dancer doing a routine to almost every song she does.
The success of her debut single 1,000 miles in 2002 was both a gift and a curse. It was a gift because it was hugely successful and made her a household name. It was a curse because after that song ran it's course people didn't want to hear much else from her.
Anyone who gave her other songs a chance were greatly rewarded. Here's some of those songs that made me a fan and had me looking forward to her new album.
Pretty Baby - From her 2002 cd "Be Not Nobody"
White Houses - Lead single from her 2004 cd "Harmonium" I like this song much better than 1,000 miles, but it does have the same feel.
In 2004 her follow up cd Harmonium was released and didn't perform well which led to her and her label parting ways. I was very skeptical when I heard that Vanessa signed with Irv Gotti (of Murder Inc. records). I'm happy to say that it seems like he let her do her and didn't try to get her to sing over a bunch of hip hop beats. What she ended up with is her best album yet.
Here's two songs off of her new album "Heroes and Thieves" that comes out on 10/9/07. I've listened to the cd all the way through 3 times today and I'm going to boldly say that it's one of the best pop albums of the year. If the album doesn't perform well it's not because Vanessa didn't turn in a quality collection of songs. She bares her heart and soul on the album. It was hard to narrow it down to 2 songs to give people an idea of the quality of the album, so I just threw in the towel and posted three.
These three songs are a good representation of the feeling of the album. Vanessa sings most of the album with the feeling that she's singing them to her boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend). I feel that any of these songs could be huge, but "Come Undone" is my favorite song on the album. With the right promotion & video for "Come Undone" she could have another smash on her hands.
The One (with Stevie Nicks)
If you listen to these songs you'll notice that the piano is not as much in the forefront of these songs as some of her past songs. This theme continues throughout the album. Instead of the piano being as dominant and (at times) overpowering as it was on past albums, in this album the piano is more of a compliment to Vanessa's songwriting & voice. It reminds me of the time when Mariah Carey made an effort to put her high notes more in the background after her Music Box album. She still showed that she had the talent, but it was more subtle.
I liked Vanessa's old sound, but her new sound is an upgrade. Hopefully when October 9 rolls around music fans will think so too.