Sound — 10
It's time for another review and I think you'll be a little suprised by my choice of preference, being Vanessa Carlton, at least to those of you who don't know me on the forums. Before I begin, let me just say I've been a huge fan of Vanessa Carlton, since 2000. I have all two of her albums (including a lot from her new album, Heroes and Thives, which is yet to be released) and a large collection of bootlegs. Like mostly everyone in the Shred Forum, I like artists who can evidently play an instrument no matter what genre. I also realise that this is a guitar forum although if Jazz records and classical albums are good enough, I should wonder why this shouldn't be able to make it through. Most people know Vanessa Carlton for her hit pop-friendly single, "A Thousand Miles", however she is much more than that. Now, if I told you, from being a huge fan of hers, that she's very classically influenced you probably wouldn't believe me - but you should. Once you listen to this album you'll realise that she's a very talented artist who writes and plays all her own music. A second misconception is that she's all pop. In her own words, "I'm pop, not because my music is but because it's popular and God, I can't wait to break out of that mould" (which she essentially did when she released her second album, Harmonium (if you haven't noticed already, this is where I got my UG name from). Truth be said, she's a pop/bordering alternative artist and she even finds time to play the Rolling Stones number, "Paint it Black" in what would be an epic, Arabian-vibed version that's different but nonetheless interesting. What's most important, I feel when introducing this album to people is the fact that it comprises a lot of instrumental focus, you've even got a few horns and brass sections coming through such tracks as Sway and tear-jerking violins in the very jazzy (and very sad) "Paradise". You get a few of these artists who are essentially pop in their core but has instrumental focus such as John Mayer and Nora Jones. Upon further play of this album, a lot of the theory nerds will notice how well she uses her arpeggios, such as in the classic "stalker" song, Rinse. What I love most about this artist is that she can make such catchy melodies and better yet, she can actually play the piano! I think that this will appeal to most UGers. We all know there is a tendency to not listen to pop because of a lack of instrumental focus, technical instrumental focus might I add, but Vanessa's an artist not to be missed. She has it all: technical piano playing (and this will resound heavily in her Second album, Harmonium) and catchy melodies. What's not to like, seriously? I guarantee it, you'll appreciate her talent and there are a lot of catchy piano sections that will be finding its way to your ear at the most convenient times such on the way to work or while driving.
Lyrics — 10
One of the major aspects of Vanessa I absolutely love is her ability to write very sentimental lyrics in tune with her playing. A lot of the lyrics personal to her so this may be some cause for concern for males who are really insecure with listening to that sort of stuff such as "Pretty Baby". I myself don't mind it and rightly I should because why shouldn't I enjoy music if it's not personal and has no emotion/passion in it? To me, that really sounds the low point of any artists. I used to like rock music especially early '90s Grunge and alternative, however although I appreciate it, I've found that there's something with pop/alternative music (and I say pop music meaning the real deal and not Britney-pop) that you can't get anywhere. Quite frankly I grew bored of Rock passion. Vanessa's lyrics have a wide span, however essentially, most of her lyrics are about her relationships with other people (A Thousand Miles, Ordinary Day, Rinse, which is actually about her friends stalking obsession, Pretty Baby, Prince and Wanted, actually about her love for a gay guy). Her other lyrics are about personal achievement (Unsung, Twilight and Sway). Her signing skills are average and though she's no Christina Ag. she has a pretty remarkable voice.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm disappointed that Be Not Nobody only spawned 11 tracks and I was subsequently even more disappointed where her sophmore effort also spawned 11 tracks. In comparison to her sophmore effort, I can tell you straight away that her true talent on paino shows on the latter. Be Not Nobody has more melody while Harmonium focuses more on her playing, however it has different fundamental qualities to it but that's for my next review. In conclusion: if you don't mind pop lyrics and are particularly interested in hearing real pop music with actual instrumental focus, get this record now.