Vanessa Carlton has always had a unique sound, and this has only become more noticeable over the years as she’s moved farther away from her early pop success. Especially on her 4th studio album Rabbits On The Run, released in July 2011, you can hear a dark, almost magical quality to her music. She can really create a certain vibe that transports the listener to another place and time.
Vanessa had material ready for her 5th album before Rabbits On The Run was even out, though she may not have known that at the time. After the 4th album era had run its course, Vanessa slowly eased back into the writing mode, sharing ideas and inspiration with fans over the months. In between writing and recording, she also found time to fall in love and get married to Deer Tick’s frontman, John McCauley. He ended up helping her craft what would become Liberman.
Liberman is scheduled to be out on October 23rd via Dine Alone Records. An outtake from the album, “Young Heart,” was released in April 2015 as a “pre-single single.” A 4-song EP called Blue Pool, released in July, gave a good preview of Liberman, and now the single “Willows” is out as we count down the final weeks until Liberman is released.
Rabbits On The Run’s Forgotten “Moneymaker”
The first known song considered for inclusion on Vanessa Carlton’s 5th album was a track called “Moneymaker.” Vanessa tweeted about it back in May 2010, more than a year before her 4th record was released:
about to sing more background vocals on a song called moneymaker….in the english countryside side…birds just (cont) http://tl.gd/1dp3fd
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) May 21, 2010
Here is the full text:
about to sing more background vocals on a song called moneymaker….in the english countryside side…birds just stopped there songs as the sun has fallen below the horizon line…..just a we orange glow in the trees. i see cows lounging on their green rolly hill. they’re actually lounging as if they’ve got cigars. hobbits are everywhere. this album has become the strongest medicine. lucky girl i am. i tell ya.
The song was originally meant for Rabbits On The Run, but didn’t make the cut. “Moneymaker” was thought to be left behind, but the song would resurface a few years later as a contender for a spot on Vanessa’s 5th album.
Of “Patience” & Euphoria
After Rabbits On The Run came out in 2011, Vanessa Carlton still had a lot of inspiration and kept writing songs. In March 2012, not even a year after her 4th album was released, she tweeted about having “a song idea like a cinema.”
Balcony on the Nile, water is suprrr dirty but ever so sparkly. Coffee. Marley, Is This Love & a song idea like a cinema. Not late 4 nuthin
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) March 8, 2012
The next month, Vanessa told her concert crowd that she was planning to return to England to start recording her next album that fall. Only a few days later, one of the earliest tastes fans got came in the form of a 1 minute song clip. On April 20, 2012, Vanessa Carlton uploaded a song called “Patience” to her SoundCloud page. It’s an enchanting piano and vocal tune with Vanessa chanting “You will wait for it” to her listeners.
“Patience” was a nice way to tell fans they would have to wait, while giving them something to enjoy while they did so.
On April 30, 2012, Vanessa offered an insightful interview with The Observer before playing a show at Notre Dame. The reporter confirmed that Vanessa “found her very own “Shire” in England where she will record her next album.” Moreover, Vanessa “noted a change in sound over the past few years and said further changes would come with her next album.” Vanessa revealed:
We’re going to do something sort of like a, it’s really an electronic dance-pop record. It’s going to be different. I think it’s oddly a natural progression from‘Rabbits.’ I don’t really know how I can explain that in a way that makes sense, but once I think we start making the tracks, it will make sense. I’m really, really excited.
Vanessa’s inspiration for her new album came from “listening to her college-aged brother’s trippy, euphoric music and reading classical mythology.” As Vanessa described, “I’m very inspired by Shamanism and right now, I’m kind of revisiting a lot of old mythological tales and kind of psychedelic poetry.”
Upon Vanessa’s announcement of an “electronic dance-pop” album, fans speculated about how this would turn out. Many agree that, instead of something along the lines of David Guetta heavy bass dance music, it might be more along the lines of Ellie Goulding’s gentler and folksier pop. It would certainly be an easier transition from Vanessa’s previous work.
“Take It Easy,” Tweeted Titles, and “House Of Seven Swords”
In June 2012, Vanessa debuted a new song at one of her concerts called “Take It Easy” –
Fans were excited about the new song, and luckily Vanessa continued to perform it over the next couple of years. It does not sound quite like electronic dance pop, but perhaps that would be more evident in a studio version.
At the beginning of August, Vanessa described her upcoming album as “euphoric,” and reminded fans of her plan to go to England to start recording them that September.
Goin bck 2 this vortex http://t.co/lRiesfss in sept to commence work on the "euphoria" album w Mr.Osborne.
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) August 5, 2012
On August 23rd, Vanessa tweeted a new song title: “Back To Life”
Workin on back to life with mr steele. Best to let him do the leg work. http://t.co/Rg4Rviy5
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) August 24, 2012
On October 8th, Vanessa revealed another song called “Do It” along with some of the lyrics!
Lil xcerpt frm Do It "I didn't say but i was sad to see you go/you went back to the ghost/i went back to what i know." Brewin well ovr here.
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) October 8, 2012
Later in October, Vanessa unveiled another inspiration for her new music: The 1982 animated film, The Last Unicorn.
Finally, after all these years, I am able to incorporate the moment from 4:30-5:05 into a song. The Last Unicorn end http://t.co/NMieuNxS
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) October 19, 2012
In January 2013, the new year brought new songs. Vanessa debuted “House Of Seven Swords” at a show in Rhode Island, and continued to play the song throughout her tour stops. Here is a later version from October 2013:
Blackboard Full of Song Titles
On February 4, 2013, Vanessa resumed work on her album. She was excited to “finally [have] the angle!”
I head back to England, to @realworldstudio on Friday,to continue work on what's shaping up to be an album. I think i finally got the angle!
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) February 4, 2013
Within a few weeks, the album was “plotted and started!”
Headin back to London in the dark. En route 2 NYC. Album plotted & started! Sounding dead right. Will sleeeep like a teenage boy on plane.
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) February 22, 2013
The following day, on February 22nd, Stylelikeu posted a very telling new interview with Vanessa. More than the interview itself, the accompanying pictures unveiled many song titles, both familiar and brand new, that could appear on Vanessa’s 5th album.
In the photo of the blackboard, there are some familiar song titles: “Patience,” “(House Of) 7 Swords,” “Take It Easy,” “Do It,” and the Rabbits On The Run leftover, “Moneymaker.” However, there are also many new song titles: “Unlock The Lock,” “The Only Way,” “Let It Go,” “Cold Young Heart,” “Never Together,” “Night Flight,” and “Eyes See Hidden Things.”
The interview also included a great video of Vanessa talking about her style and her music over the years. It’s very interesting, and even includes an instrumental version of “Unlock The Lock,” performed by Vanessa on piano. Check it out:
Background intstrumental in the @stylelikeu piece is from a song called Unlock the Lock, from upcoming record Ima werkin on. xx
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) March 8, 2013
On June 25th, Vanessa announced the progress of her new album. She revealed it would include 10 songs, and would be finished by the end of 2013.
A week an change in w S.Osborne. Ill leave in 3 weeks w 8 songs cooked or cookin good. Return b4 Xmas to finish all. Tis a ten tune album 🙂
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) June 25, 2013
Live Debuts & Studio Singles
On September 10, 2013, Vanessa Carlton played a small show in New York City. In her 9 song set, she played 4 new songs, 3 of which were brand new to the crowd. In addition to “House Of Seven Swords,” which fans had heard as early as January that year, Vanessa also played new songs called “Willows” and “A Matter Of Time.” The fourth new song was “In Our Time,” a duet from her fiancé’s new album to be released later in September. All of the songs sounded amazing, though still not like “electronic dance pop.” Vanessa continued to perform these songs on her fall tour. Check out videos of the first three from a couple of fall 2013 concerts:
The fourth song, called “In Our Time,” was recorded for the band Deer Tick’s album, Negativity. The lead singer, John McCauley, was engaged to Vanessa Carlton in mid 2013, and the love song comes from the perspective of an older couple.
John McCauley spoke about the collaboration in an interview with Interview Magazine:
Love makes you do crazy things. [laughs] Vanessa and I, we met back in November. We tried writing together, and we did a fun few days in the studio with Scott Lucas from Local H. It was just all for fun—we didn’t really get anything written together—but I came up with that song and I wanted to put it on the new Deer Tick record. She came out to visit me while we were recording, and I didn’t even have to change a word. It worked as a duet if you just share the vocal duties on it.
“In Our Time” is not expected to appear on Vanessa Carlton’s 5th album, but you can purchase it – or the full Negativity album – on iTunes.
On the same day that Negativity was released, on September 24th, Vanessa also announced a standalone single, her cover of Bernice Parks’ “I’ll Wait For You.”
She shared this message about the song:
It was around midnight at the tail end of last winter when my friend Patrick called me to tell me he had been bewitched by a song. He had been given his grandmother’s collection of 78’s and had discovered this tune sung by Bernice Parks. He played it for me thru the phone while I laid on the couch with my dog…tv on mute. It sounded like a beauty.
Patrick had a plan. He asked if I’d fly down to Nashville (from New York) and reinterpret this song with he and his pal Luke. Victor (dog) and I flew down a week later.
When I started to sing, a rain storm broke out. I sang thru the whole storm in this lovely studio behind a house. Luke played slide guitar while I sang and Patrick played drums in a bombastic orchestral style later that evening. Carl (who plays in My Morning Jacket with Patrick) came by late that night and sang some crazy high background parts. Hancock Reserve may or may not have been flowing.
The next day I flew home…just in time to miss the incoming Nashville tornado.
We all fell under the spell of a simple and beautiful song and it was an honor to sing on it with such a talented group of guys. Im happy I picked up the phone that night.
Enjoy “I’ll Wait for You”
The song was released on digitally on October 1st (you can buy it on iTunes), and a video came out on October 29th. You can see it below:
“I’ll Wait For You” is also not expected to appear on Vanessa’s 5th album.
Vanessa’s Personal Life: Miscarriage & Marriage
While Vanessa was on tour in fall 2013, she announced that she was pregnant with her first child, and was engaged to John McCauley, the singer for Deer Tick. Unfortunately, Vanessa had complications that resulted in the loss of her baby . She updated her fans on her medical issues, and spoke about her ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage only briefly, and had to cancel some dates of her tour.
On a brighter note, she and John did marry at the end of the year. They married on December 27, 2013, and were officiated by Stevie Nicks.
Married this gentleman two hours ago xo pic.twitter.com/q4ZGxszvNp
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) December 28, 2013
Thanks Stevie for marrying us! pic.twitter.com/E2ujXZf6P9
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) December 28, 2013
Finishing “Liberman” and Revealing the Tracklist
On January 31, 2014, Vanessa posted a note onto her official website updating fans on the progress of her album:
I just got back from the UK where I spent a week working on my new album and finishing up the 7 tracks I did with Steve Osborne. It was six months in between the two sessions we took to record but we needed the time to digest what we were crafting…plus it’s hard for me to get to England sometimes. This is a rather unorthodox album. The approach is intense cause it’s mostly just Osborne and I sitting in the chalet at the studio, listening and tweaking and playing weird shit. Pretty awesome. I was in heaven. We have three more songs to go so I will be finishing those up here in the states.
On February 28th, Vanessa announced that her new record would be called Liberman:
On March 14th, there were only two weeks until Liberman would be done being mastered:
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) March 14, 2014
On March 21st, Vanessa mentioned how the album order was decided:
Liberman getting mastered today!!! http://t.co/sD7JgtfcWB
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) April 11, 2014
Throughout the rest of April and May, Vanessa revealed 8 of the 10 songs that would appear on Liberman, along with their track numbers. Some were new song titles, while others were titles that had previously been mentioned or performed.
In the comments she confirmed that it is Track #8:
On June 9th, Vanessa performed her song “Willows” on television for the first time. She went on Good Day New York to play the song, and to talk about Liberman a bit. Vanessa confirmed that “Willows” will be on the new record, but although the album has already been mastered, Liberman will most likely not be released until 2015. This was the first mention of an album delay. As she described:
I just finished an album I was working on in England and Tennessee. And it’s actually probably not going to come out until next year. But I’m going to play a song today called “Willows,” from that record, about these weeping willow trees when I was growing up that I really loved.
You can watch Vanessa’s interview and performance of “Willows” below:
That same day, on June 9, 2014, Vanessa confirmed “Take It Easy” would be the first track on Liberman.
With this confirmation, and that of “Willows,” we now know the full 10-song track list:
|1||Take It Easy|
|3||House Of Seven Swords|
|6||Nothing Where Something Used To Be|
|7||Matter Of Time|
|8||Unlock The Lock|
This leaves a number of known songs that did not make the cut, including “Moneymaker,” originally for Vanessa’s previous album, Rabbits On The Run. Other discarded songs include “Back To Life,” “Do It,” and “Eyes See Hidden Things.” You can see other titles on the list of songs intended for Liberman. Perhaps some of those will end up being released in other ways – bonus tracks, standalone singles, or even a future album.
The “Dreamy, Meditative” Liberman Delayed to 2015 – Because Vanessa is Pregnant!
In June, Vanessa began revealing details about her 5th album, including the overall sound and some pieces of inspiration behind the songs.
She told the New Jersey Herald:
I wanted to go deeper into the atmospheric sounds that Steve Osborne and I created on ‘Rabbits on the Run.’ This album, ‘Liberman,’ is an album for headphones. The one that you listen to when you walk. It feels like a dream to me. And then at the end you wake up.
Liberman will also be meditative and philosophical, as she described to Examiner:
I would say it’s lush. The songs are lush and they feel… very calm and meditative, but at the same time, I think the melodies are really strong so it goes down really easy. The sonics of the record are really amazing. I worked with Steve Osborne who’s the sound engineer, and he comes up with these incredible sounds that are like you feel like you’re in a dream or something… so I’d call it dreamy, and seance-y, meditative. It’s great music for just walking and getting lost in music in your head, you know? Lyrically, it’s not very personal, it’s just more philosophical.
Vanessa says her favorite track on Liberman is “Take It Easy.” She has been playing the song in her concerts since 2012, so it will be interesting to hear “Take It Easy” in studio quality.
Unfortunately, fans won’t be able to hear it that soon: Liberman may not be out until next year.
Well, we don’t have a release date yet, but the album is totally complete. We’re working on the visual art to go along with the record…. I’m really excited to get it out there, but I don’t have any more info yet for you, sorry.
Vanessa also spoke to 27East:
The sounds are really lush and beautiful. There’s room for instrumentals and room for rabbit holes. Beautiful little vortexes, I call them. I really love when I stumble across those things in a song.
Unfortunately, around these initial interviews, Vanessa also mentioned that there would be a delay, but that she had a good reason. She guessed that Liberman would be out in summer 2015.
I have a good reason for album delay. Ill be able to give ya more info in about 4 weeks. Thanks for the patience.
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) June 10, 2014
A few weeks after that tweet, Vanessa divulged the true reason for the delay: She is pregnant with her first baby!
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) June 26, 2014
She told fans on Facebook:
I can now reveal the reason as to why Liberman will not be released until next summer. See the picture below. No, those aren’t a bunch of croissants. We’re expecting a baby. It’s healthy and moving around like a champ. I’m bummed to delay the album because it’s so special to me and the perfect combination of England and Tennessee. When I put the record on it feels like medicine. I hope it does the same for you…in due time!
Thanks for sticking with me. John, Victor and I are over the moon.
It is wonderful to see her pregnant again with a healthy baby. Starting a family will be worth the brief album delay.
Vanessa’s Daughter Sidney Is Born
Vanessa’s pregnancy went on for the remainder of 2014. It wasn’t until the new year that her daughter was finally born. On January 13, 2015, Sidney Aoibheann Carlton-McCauley was born to Vanessa and her husband John.
The family spent the next couple of months getting settled. Vanessa, John, and baby are all doing well.
Liberman Scheduled For A Fall 2015 Release
In February 2015 Vanessa announced a couple of shows set for this spring, but she snuck in some album information as well: Liberman is set for a fall 2015 release!
On March 10th, Vanessa shared an exciting teaser from her mastered album:
In spring 2015, with a new baby in tow, Vanessa was getting ready to finally release the long-awaited Liberman. To start things off, she first wanted to share an extra treat: “Young Heart” was recorded during the Liberman sessions, but it won’t be on the album. Vanessa describes it as a “pre-single single.” Esquire debuted the track on April 20th, and the music video came out the next day.
“Young Heart” is led by a strummed acoustic guitar, and its minimalist production gives the song a dreamy quality. It sounds like a proper evolution from Vanessa’s last album, 2011’s Rabbits On The Run.
Vanessa told Esquire about the inspiration behind “Young Heart” –
Almost everyone I know wishes they had, in some relationship or another in your past, you wish that you had kind of done it differently. Or connected differently or were able to express differently. You have to learn along the way, not everything survives. It’s just not meant to. And then what does unfold and what does come together, it kind of comes together usually at the time that you’ve been able to develop it.
She also talked about the sound of Liberman overall. Like her previous album, this one was recorded with producer Steve Osborne. Vanessa also worked with Adam Landry and her husband, Deer Tick frontman John McCauley. Rabbits On The Run was quite the departure from Vanessa’s earlier albums, and Liberman will continue that sound:
I think I’m feeling a little calmer. And I want things to be more ambient. I learned so much from working with Steve Osborne. These two records are a collaboration with him and he taught me so much about, like, the space around sound. I want it to go down easy, like honey. It doesn’t have to be loud.
Snippet of “Nothing Where Something Used To Be”
On May 24th, Vanessa shared a snippet of a new song from her upcoming album:
Just posted a snippet of a song that nobody ain't ever heard. It's almost midnight. #Beyoncé "Nothing Where Something Used to Be".
— Vanessa Carlton (@VanessaCarlton) May 25, 2015
Blue Pool EP Introduces 4 New Songs
On June 15th, Nylon offered an exclusive premiere of a new song, “Blue Pool,” a dreamy yet foreboding indie track set to a tinkling piano and strummed guitar. Vanessa sings lyrics that conjure up imagery that is beautiful and thought-provoking. It works perfectly with her “swirly” piano part. Vanessa said of “Blue Pool”:
This whole album is paired down and minimalist and this song is an example of how you can turn a traditional piano vocal song into something else. Also I’m a big Philip Glass fan and I love how Steve Osborne (Liberman producer & mixer) was able to turn my swirly piano part at the end into this slippery sounding kaleidoscope.
“Blue Pool” was set to be released along with an EP of the same name on July 24th. It would include 4 tracks; these songs will also be a part of a double album deluxe version of Vanessa’s forthcoming record. The Blue Pool EP track listing is as follows:
- “Take It Easy”
- “Blue Pool”
- “Operator” (Live Living Room Session)
- “Nothing Where Something Used To Be” (Live Living Room Session)
Vanessa’s full-length fifth album, Liberman, will released in late October. It is also set to include “Blue Pool.” Although the complete 10 song track listing was announced last year, it looks like things may have changed a bit. “Young Heart” was initially set to be track 5 on Liberman, however the song was released this April as a non-album single. With “Young Heart” off the track list and already in our own playlists, how will the complete track list look now? We will find out in the coming months.
On July 9th, another new song premiered: the Live Living Room Session version of “Nothing Where Something Used To Be.” The song, also known by an alternate title of “Do It,” has an innocent conviction to it, one that you would have found in Vanessa’s earliest songs on Be Not Nobody. It’s a delicate and infectious song where the vocals and lyrics take center stage against minimalistic music.
Vanessa described “Nothing Where Something Used To Be” to Paste Magazine:
I like to call this song my teen break-up anthem. It’s not just for teenagers. Nothing is just for teenagers. The whole ‘do it’ section in the song is about wishing someone was more courageous and open with you. I think nothing is more attractive than someone who is able to show you all their cards. So if you are on a love cliff—that super high and terrifying cliff—jump. Just jump.
Finally, the Blue Pool EP was released on Friday, July 24th. “Take It Easy” and title track “Blue Pool” will appear on Liberman this fall, but the songs “Operator” (originally titled “Moneymaker”) and “Nothing Where Something Used To Be” (previously known as “Do It”) are exclusive to the EP. This is definitely a collection of songs you’ll want to hear – and there are some surprises within the EP’s 16 minutes of running time. You can listen to the songs in the playlist below:
“Blue Pool” Music Video
On August 3rd, Vanessa released a music video for “Blue Pool.” It plays like a home video with rather imaginative filming and editing. The footage is often point-of-view from Vanessa’s longtime canine companion, Lord Victor. Other scenes are enveloped in a hazy circle on the edges of the screen, while some parts have mirrored and kaleidoscopic effects. All the while, the coloring of the video gives it a vintage essence, making you feel like you’re wandering through a distant memory.
On August 27th, Vanessa released a new single from Liberman – the same song that was supposed to be the lead single in spring 2014. “Willows” is a soft but energized song that paints a picture in your head that could have come from your own childhood memory. The song was actually inspired by the willow trees surrounding Vanessa’s Pennsylvania home growing up. As she told USA Today, “When you’re a little kid, they’re just magic, those trees. ”
“Willows” comes full circle though, relating to Vanessa’s own life now that she herself is a mother and wife. Vanessa explains that the song “was me going through the steps of what type of thing we wanted to start with each other, what we wanted to set up. It’s scary to commit to people in that way. At least for me it was.” The song has a repeated line, “Keep safe my love.” Vanessa continues: “It really means keep this love safe, keep this connection protected, as best as you can, because I’ve chosen to be so vulnerable with you.”
Musically, “Willows” has a galloping energy, which resulted in Vanessa calling it her Headless Horseman song. “It reminds me of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the headless-horseman run at the end, where it’s coming out of the forest.”
Vanessa fans have heard “Willows” in the live setting before – most notably during a TV performance last year – but the studio version offers a different interpretation. You can pick up “Willows” on iTunes now and watch the lyric video below:
Liberman is set for release this October, and Vanessa promises that “the real gist of it is to feel good.”
I wanted the record to make you feel good. It wasn’t some kind of emotional purging for me. Some records are like that, and sometimes it’s really amazing to get a record like that from an artist, because you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s what’s happening to me.’ But that’s not what I was doing and not what I wanted to do. I wanted it to feel like a soothing, dreamyseries of songs.
Liberman was produced by Steve Osborne and Adam Landry. The album is set for release on Friday, October 23rd via Dine Alone Records, and will come in two versions: A standard edition and a double album edition featuring live and demo versions of the album tracks.
“Ascension,” Liberman Trailer, & Fall Tour
On September 10th, Vanessa released a trailer for Liberman, which includes the album’s closing track, “Ascension.”
During the video, Vanessa explains a bit of background on the new Liberman songs as well:
I wanted it to be 10 songs, and I also wanted it to be short. And I wanted it to also feel like a dream, like you were experiencing a dream and then the dream was over.
I listen to a lot of music that feels like medicine, like it really kind of changes your state instantly, and not just because of the structure of the song or the lyrics, but because of the sounds of the sonic.
That’s why I made the record. I wanted to make the type of album that I wanted to listen to when I walk and wear headphones.
In addition to the Liberman trailer, Vanessa also has some more exciting news: A tour! From late October through December, Vanessa will be touring all across the eastern half of the US and Canada. Don’t worry if you don’t see a date near you – more tour dates will be announced for early 2016 shortly.
You can buy concert tickets from Vanessa’s official site now. If you buy concert tickets, you will also have the option to bundle that with a pre-order of an autographed copy of Liberman, which you can pick up on the day of the show. You will also get a digital download on October 23rd.
Liberman will be out on October 23rd via Dine Alone Records. It features 10 songs on the standard version, plus 8 live and demo versions of the songs on the deluxe edition. You can pre-order autographed standard and deluxe editions of the album on her official store now. If you buy concert tickets, you will also have the option to bundle the tickets with a pre-order the album.