Vanessa Carlton - Liberman

Review by Dom Vigil

Within the first few opening notes of Liberman, it’s apparent that this album marks the first step in a new musical journey for Vanessa Carlton. With an overall haunting and eerie quality about nearly every song, Liberman is captivating and beautiful, and certainly something fresh for both devoted fans and new listeners alike.

“Take It Easy” opens Liberman on a relatively soft and dreamy note, and quickly proves to be one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. After a long intro, successfully building anticipation, Carlton’s smooth voice finally comes in about a minute into “Take It Easy,” and it’s hard not to feel completely entranced by the haunting and echoey quality of her vocals. “Take It Easy” is the perfect opener to ease listeners into the smooth and mellow sound of Liberman, and the following tracks back it up perfectly. “Willows,” the following song, is lead by a beautiful sweeping piano part, supplemented by soft guitar picking that has the same floating and haunting quality as “Take It Easy,” but also progresses the song forward. The stunning vocal runs in “Willows” are another high point.

“House Of Seven Swords” is another very pretty sounding track, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have the same underlying energy as the first two songs have, and nearly becomes a little boring compared to them. The saving grace of “House Of Seven Swords,” though, is in the vocal runs, which have a very wide range and float through your speakers with ease. As Liberman continues forward, Carlton delivers again and again in her vocal work, which suits the eerie and mellow mood of the album perfectly. 

“Operator,” which follows “House Of Seven Swords” picks up the pace a bit with a strong beat. The memorable chorus, while still relatively somber like the rest of the album, is about as catchy or upbeat as Liberman will get, but where it lacks in energy, “Operator” makes up for in passionate vocals and lyricism. “Operator” is definitely the high point energy-wise on Liberman, though, as no other songs really have quite as strong of a drum beat or chorus as this track. “Blue Pool,” for instance, feels a little too tame and slow compared to “Operator.”

The strength in Liberman comes in the consistent songwriting and underlying mood of the album. Vanessa Carlton doesn’t throw you through loops in an effort to make you understand Liberman, which makes it easy to simply enjoy these hauntingly beautiful tracks. The only downside comes in the similarity between songs. While the vocals are stunningly beautiful, some soft runs and patterns tend to sound the same. Songs like “Operator” and “Nothing Where Something Used To Be” are total standouts, though. “Nothing Where Something Used To Be” is a very strong emotional high point. While musically, this song sounds very similar to the rest of Liberman, the vocals and lyrics are very emotional and personal. “Matter Of Time” is another standout because of its difference in sound, as the song is comprised mostly of simple vocals and guitar picking, and “River” is very beautiful and memorable in the vocal melodies, bringing the album to a strong close.

Overall, Liberman is a beautiful release from Vanessa Carlton. The sound and theme of this album is unwavering, and the result are ten hauntingly beautiful songs that are incredibly easy to listen to. While there aren’t any huge risks taken with Liberman, it isn’t necessarily a safe release, either. The difference in sound compared to Carlton’s older material is vast, but it works well in her favor.

Rating: 4/5

Listen to "Operator" or "Nothing Where Something Used To Be"

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