March 10, 2017 by Matthew Coakley
Vanessa Carlton, famous for her 2002 hit song “A Thousand Miles,” still has an active music career as a singer-songwriter, believe it or not. Since her platinum-selling debut album “Be Not Nobody,” released through major label A&M Records, she has switched to an indie label and released four studio albums.
Her latest releases however, have been two live albums: “Liberman Live,” featuring live recordings of songs from her 2015 album “Liberman,” and “Earlier Things Live,” which contains recent renditions of older songs from her career (yes, including “A Thousand Miles”). Now on tour in support of these live albums, Carlton will be stopping in Philadelphia to play at World Cafe Life March 11.
Although she hasn’t actually released any new songs between last year’s “Liberman” tour and now, the show is going to take a much different form this time around:
“Starting with my first record, a couple songs off my second record, a couple songs off my third record and so on, it’s kind of a walk through each album of mine. My last tour was very ‘Liberman’-heavy. To change it up, so people are gonna come again to the show, it’s more of the full spectrum,” Carlton explained in an interview with The Triangle.
Last time she came to Philadelphia was just over a year ago, at World Cafe Live Dec. 9, 2015. I was lucky enough to catch her when she came then, and I must say that her live show was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. It was an intimate, quiet and peaceful concert; most people in the audience were seated and Carlton treated us to her piano stylings while musician Sky Steele played accompaniment on the electric violin.
It’s awesome to hear how she has progressed as a musician since she lucked out with her breakout single 15 years ago and scored three Grammy nominations (including Song of the Year and Record of the Year). Her music has become a lot less poppy and more atmospheric, with an emphasis on lyrics and delicate chord progressions.
She explained how balancing motherhood and her music career is starting to become more difficult:
“This actually may be my last tour for a good chunk of time,” admitted Carlton, who became a mother two years ago. “I need to continue writing — I’m trying to work on another project — and I want to be home. What happens is I’m on the road for like, two weeks max, and then go home for a couple days. And then go back out, and then go home.”
The new project she referred to is still in its “beginning stages,” but it involves a possible collaboration with a “dream producer” she wouldn’t name. “In my mind, even though I’ve never spoken to this person, I’m kind of writing this album as if it’s a collaboration between us,” Carlton explained. Whether or not she actually gets to work with this mystery producer, it should be interesting to see how the record turns out.
When I asked if we should expect to hear any new songs from her upcoming project at the show, she teased that she might test a song or two if she’s feeling particularly confident.
Vanessa Carlton would walk a thousand miles if she could just see you. Luckily, you will only have to walk half-a-mile to see her at World Cafe Live, just a few blocks over on University of Pennsylvania’s campus. Treat yourself and head on down March 11 if you want to take a well-deserved break before the onslaught of Week 10 and finals.