Vanessa Carlton – Love Is An Art (Album Review)

Way back in 2002, a young singer-songwriter by the name of Vanessa Carlton took Pop radio by storm with her number 1 single “A Thousand Miles.” A song that preceded the release of her debut album, Be Not Nobody, later that year, both have since gone multi-platinum and thus set a career in motion.

Now, 18 years later, Carlton has grown as both a person and a songwriter. Concentrating on what direction she wanted to go musically throughout the years, rather than occupying herself with what a record label expected, Carlton has solidified herself as far more than a Pop artist. Doing so from album to album, making songs that are both personal while musically inviting, she continues the journey with her latest effort, Love Is An Art. Her sixth overall studio album, and first since 2015’s Liberman, the new collection of songs comes to the world on Friday, March 27th, through Dine Alone Records. 

Coming at a time when the world could use some distraction as well as something uplifting, Love Is An Art contains twelve songs about love, as well as the joy and struggles it brings. Mainly inspired by the novel The Art of Loving by Philosopher Erich Fromm, the arrangements consist of samples and exceptional piano playing from Carlton. While this might suggest the music sounds simple and pure, the reality is that is it is quite electronic. In some ears, perhaps excessive, and it could even be argued that Carlton is minimizing her vocal talents at times.

This argument put into place, Carlton still offers a very strong piece of music. Utilizing her soft voice and matching it with extremely melodic tunes, Carlton captures your full attention and guides you through an intriguing soundscape. Quite mellow, the album has a very similar sonic texture throughout, which is why it is important to listen to it from start to finish in order to get the true effect. If you are looking to pick a single here and there from this bunch, you are not going to find it. However, if you are the type who enjoys the journey an album can take you on, prepare to be entranced with something that slows down the chaos surrounding you.

A much needed gift in these troubled times, it is this psychological state of relaxation which could very be what Carlton was aiming for. Prime examples of exceptional musicianship and uber chill vibes include “Companion Star,” talking about the Northern Star guiding you the right way; “I Know You Don’t Mean It,” which is about forgiveness, appreciation and sympathy; and “The Only Way To Love,” about selflessness, plus loving with all your heart. Then there is also the title-track which builds emotion as it goes, and the haunting qualities felt inside “Back to Life.”

In essence, Love Is An Art acts as a guide to love itself.  Beautifully easy-going and smooth, Carlton has shown the effects an album as an entity can have in a streaming/shuffling world. That is why Cryptic Rock gives her latest collection 3 out of 5 stars. 

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