Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best In The Current Trend Of Female Singer-Songwriters, 5 Oct. 2003
This review is from: Be Not Nobody [Bonus Tracks] (Audio CD)
To be honest, popular music has needed a kick up the proverbial backside for sometime. Especially when you look at the amount of boy bands emerging (and how much younger they seem to be getting...), and more disturbingly, the amount that dance music appears to be rearing its ugly head once more. Although I'm not a fan of her, since Alicia Keys came along and had that huge hit with 'Fallin' ', I was pretty glad that maybe some artists who actually have talent (shock, horror) might just be breaking into the mainstream. And of course, when there's one, there's going to be others...and although you can't really compare Vanessa Carlton to Alicia Keys, you can't help but wonder if she'd done quite so well and achieved quite so much if it wasn't for the appearance of Miss Keys and her tinkling fingers...
Other than the sheer fact that they both play and write songs acoustically, there are little other similarities to the two. And I'm not going to start comparing. Vanessa Carlton possesses a fine high-pitched voice that although is not unique, makes the music she personally wrote sound more personal and at the same time more relatable and vulnerable. She also possesses a lot more talent than I actually expected to hear upon purchasing 'Be Not Nobody' (the sort of title that teenagers will flock to buy unfortunately). It's worth noting and remembering that as you move your way through fine upbeat piano, dark sombre atmospherics, string-laden beauties and highly professionally put together layered songs, that she was only around 18 years old when she made this album. She may even have written these songs a longer time ago. And for someone who's so young and has probably had little experience in the school of life, there are a lot of justifiable issues throughout 'Be Not Nobody', whether personally exercised, or seen with her own eyes, they seem to always remain heart-felt. Opener 'Ordinary Day' is surely one for the girls who literally dream of the boys who they've fallen in love with and feel a magical attraction to, but for everyone you can't help but feel slightly uplifted, especially by those slowly emerging strings. 'Unsung' is surely one of the most upbeat songs on the album, combining a little bit of electricity with that finely played piano.
Unfortunately, as a male listening to this album, there is one of two perhaps vomit-inducing moment, in the likes of the almost nursery-rhyme-esque, 'Pretty Baby', and the slightly tedious 'Prince', and as someone who considers the original version of 'Paint It Black' by The Rolling Stones one of the greatest songs of all time, Carlton's version is shall we say, not bad, but just not good, but in the likes of the heart-broken, 'Rinse' and the more poppy and powerfully positive, 'Sway', that comes before and after each of those songs that let Carlton's popwerful writing qualities downm, it is made up for twice as much. 'Twilight', is a beautiful low key affair that adds as one of the albums highlights, also making it refreshing for once to hear one of the albums best tracks right at the very end, to leave on a high note. There's reason to come back, and for me personally for first single, 'A Thousand Miles', a song for those who are far away from those loved ones, or special man or girl in their lives, and as someone who's girlfriend lives way over in Finland, I can vouch that this song is heart-felt and is performed by a true professional. Or should I say professionals? Throughout 'Be Not Nobody' the production is near perfect. Sure, it is a thoughtful, alternative (and I say that in a none rock sense) album that has been produced cleanly for a pop audience, but it helps the music and Carlton herself, rather than hinder them, each note and sound being heard just as it should be, making this a very pleasant experience for those of us with tainted hearts, and tainted ears.
Despite it's one or two trips into the dirge (one or two many to not give this a totally top mark unfortunately), this is a beautiful album, that does show Vanessa Carlton to her fullest. This is also her debut and as she notes in the liner notes, '...the album she always wanted to make', so I will certainly give this young songstress credit. And quite possibly still under 20, when she's written an album like 'Be Not Nobody' that has at least 6 highlights out of 11 epic acoustically based songs, you wonder what she could do if she manages to keep focused and keep up this amount of momentum in the future.
4 Stars.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (50 customer reviews)
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S. Wright
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Location: Sheffield, England.

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