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Carlton, Vanessa - 2002 Be Not Nobody

ARTIST: Carlton, Vanessa
ALBUM: Be Not Nobody
SERIAL: 0694933072
YEAR: 2002


LINEUP: Vanessa Carlton - vocals, piano * Abe Laboriel Jr - drums * John Goux - guitars, ducimer, sitar * Leland Sklar - bass * Ron Fair - vibes, organ, harmonica * Alex Al - electric upright bass * Chuck Berghofer - upright bass * Luis Conte - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Thousand Miles * 02 Unsung * 03 Rinse * 04 Ordinary Day * 05 Twilight * 06 Say You Would * 07 Pretty Baby * 08 Paint It Black * 09 Paradise * 10 Prince * 11 Wanted


Okay, so I realise that Vanessa Carlton's debut album is more rooted in the pop field as opposed to rock, but we agreed here at GDAZE that there was something here which would be of appeal to many of our regular visitors. The fact is, 'Be Not Nobody' is a strong album, regardless of whatever musical style it may be.

The Songs
The lilting piano and string arrangement of the opening track 'Ordinary Day' seems as an appropriate place to start. The song itself would seem well put together without the strings, but it's the orchestration (as with many other parts of the album) which really help to make it special. When it's set against Ms Carlton's breathy vocals, it works a treat. 'Unsung' is slight more aggressive with it's hammered piano and Laboriel's solid drum kit. I've heard comparisons with red-haired loony-tune Tori Amos, but in my mind for many parts of this album those comparisons are slight (except, perhaps, for 'Rinse'and 'Wanted', and her sound owes more to the Canadian chanteuse, Chantal Kreviazuk. The album's first single 'A Thousand Miles' is great. A rolling piano, somewhere between Chantal Kreviazuk and Bruce Hornsby and a spiky string arrangement, great verses and killer chorus it's no wonder this has been a hit single in both the US and UK. It's here also that the distinctive curl in Vanessa's vocals becomes more apparent. 'Pretty Baby' is the album's first slower number. It's a little sugary but I don't have a real problem with that, truth be told. I imagine this should be of great appeal for those who enjoyed Lene Marlin's album 'Playing My Game' and fans of Michelle Branch.

Once again the solid piano stylings which open 'Sway' remind me a little of Bruce Hornsby. It's another well arranged piece, but doesn't really offer the listener any great variation on previous songs. The slower 'Paradise' has the main focus back on effective orchestration. It has a slightly bar-room vocal jazz quality (I say slight, as it doesn't go the whole way, a la Norah Jones) and features great use of brushes from Abe Laboriel Jr. 'Wanted' is probably Vanessa's most aggressive vocal performance. Although I don't hear as many Tori Amos comparisons within the album as a whole, on this track they're pretty much unavoidable, owing to it being voice and piano alone and fairly angsty. 'Twilight' is gentle once again, closing the album rather solemnly. The main focus is on the orchestration and the vocals, one of the only times Vanessa is not reliant on her piano on the album. It's definitely designed as an album closer.. I think it would sound most out of place elsewhere.

In Summary
An excellent debut, spoiled slightly by the cover of the classic the Rolling Stones number 'Paint It Black'. Some things are best left alone.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on June 13 2008 16:39:35
This album absolutely rules! She was great live too. Pity the second album wasn't up to much, though the more recent third affair found her getting back to the quality exhibited on this debut release.
The videos for the singles were neat too.

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