Vanessa Carlton - Be Not Nobody
Now for those who are not familiar with UK radio, it gives the term "mainstream" an entirely different name. Basically, the major local and national radio stations have static playlists of about 30 tracks and they put these on rotation all week long. Imagine, if you listen to one station for a day, you will hear the same track played four or five times. Now, because what goes on playlists is determined by the record companies (pretty much) each of those stations will have virtually the same thirty or so songs or their playlists. Frequency hopping won't help you. You hear the same stuff time and time again, whatever station you are listening to. Imagine a world where all you hear on mainstream music radio are Twitney, Mariah Carey and Girls Aloud and you have pretty much the aural equivalent of "Nightmare on Elm Street" - only this time you are awake.
Not surprising then, that my horizons on my return were limited. I found out about the then new U2 album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" as well as a couple of tracks by Coldplay. Most of the rest of it was, as it had been before I switched off, sheer unadulterated crap. However, one single was getting a fair amount of airplay though it took me a while to find out who it was who sang it. Once I found out, I decided to go out and get it.
As a consequence I was drawn to this album by the single "A Thousand Miles", pretty much as I suspect was the case with most people who bought the album. Happily, there is much more to the album than this, though I am not sure about her cover of "Paint It Black". The rest of the album has a number of well-written and well performed songs. They may seem at first listen to be a tad uninspired, but the more you listen to it the more depth you find and appreciate in the music. I accept that it is not going to rock your world, but at a time when commercial music is notable only for the speed with which I can reach for the off switch on the radio, this is something worth listening to.
The real strength of this album is Vanessa Carlton's voice. While it may be a bit nasally at time, she nevertheless shows that a female vocalist of mellow songs can do a lot without the excessive vocalising of Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. Above all, unlike those two aforementioned over-rated automatons, one syllable does not have to be strung out across half a dozen notes. Another plus is the fact that the piano work is great without being dominating and overpowering. It complements and fits in with the overall feel of the music. Here is a singer songwriter who actually plays an instrument. Now that in itself is something rare among female vocalists.
No doubt a load of the self-appointed gurus of musical style will deride this, probably without even listening to it. They will assume because if got airplay and is sung by a young woman, it is crap and therefore to be avoided. Well no, crap is Britney Spears. She could not prepare anything one tenth as good as this if her life depended on it.
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on 2011-03-29 CharlesMartel Said:
I have heard nothing else by Vanessa Carlton except this. Still, "A Thousand Miles" is still one of my favourite tracks.