On Monday, November 9, I had the pleasure of spending my evening in Columbus, Ohio at the A&R Music Bar with Vanessa Carlton. She made a stop to the Buckeye State’s capital as she promotes her fifth studio album Liberman. Vanessa was received with warm reception as she took the stage at the intimate venue situated on Neil Avenue.
Equipped with an electronic keyboard accompanied by candlelight, Carlton thanked her gracious fans before opening her set list. Vanessa reminded the audience of her past album success with “White Houses”, a track with which the crowd was familiar. “Who’s to Say” brought out the lovely and longing desperation in Vanessa’s voice. The maturity and depth of her sound could be heard in “Take it Easy”, a beautiful track from Liberman. She immediately continued her set with another track from Liberman entitled “Willows”, whose sounds were reminiscent of an Irish melody and the haunting undertones of Philip Glass; an accomplished keyboard musician, could be felt. Carlton’s “House of Seven Swords”, with its Tarot reference proved to be a track especially dear to her as Vanessa shared with the audience the experiences and feelings about her brother and his personal accomplishments.
Two of my personal favorite songs from the evening with Vanessa were “Operator” and “Blue Pool” which highlighted the extent to which Vanessa has grown in her musicality. Reflective and personal in nature, the listener is given a glimpse into Vanessa’s day-to-day life. “Blue Pool”, with its kaleidoscope, or swirling feeling is complemented beautifully with the counterpoint melody of the violin. Of course, no set list is complete without a little heartbreak and so Vanessa treated us to “Nothing Where Something Used to Be” from Liberman.
Vanessa was not shy in speaking with the audience about herself both musically and professionally. With her daughter, husband, and little dachshund on the road, Carlton is showing her love for both her family and her career. After chatting with the audience, Vanessa performed “River”, also from Liberman, in which the heavy violin created a ‘current’ in the track. Vanessa rounded out the evening, thanking fans for “letting her grow up” with her performance of “1000 Miles”, which was enthusiastically received; followed by “In Our Time” a duet with her husband, John McCauley. Its bluegrass, country twang was a far cry from the previous songs of the night. Vanessa proudly told the crowd “this is the father of my child”, including him in a most endearing fashion. Vanessa encored with “Matter of Time” from her new album Liberman.
Vanessa’s passion for her music could certainly be felt throughout the room. Her sincerity and beauty in her lyrics were evident. Perhaps it’s the stripped down, raw nature, but Liberman may be one of Carlton’s best albums.
Written by: Amanda Knight