Vanessa Carlton - Take It Easy

Vanessa Carlton - House of Seven Swords

Room 17 (Brooklyn, NY), 01/29/2016

Music Audio Vanessa Carlton
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Vanessa Carlton stepped into Brooklyn’s Room 17, performing tracks off her newest album Liberman. Listen to her Daytrotter exclusive rendition of “Take It Easy,” followed by “House of Seven Swords” and “Operator,” above.

This studio, in particular, proved very beneficial for the session, as it’s famous for a unique echo chamber that Carlton greatly benefitted from here. Each song drips with brooding synthesizer and atmospheric melodies, all while Carlton floats on top like an angel on a cloud.

After her single “A Thousand Miles” shot up to #5 on the Billboard Top 100, her debut album Be Not Nobody followed suit, reaching Platinum certification. Since then, she’s released Harmonium in 2004, Heroes & Thieves in 2007, Rabbits on the Run in 2011, as well as the holiday EP Hear the Bells in November 2012.

“Take it Easy” starts off with Carlton’s signature piano, accompanied by a booming bass line, with strings shortly following. Her voice sounds far away, echoing and haunting, with percussion adding a gallop of intensity. Flourishes of electronic MIDI are superimposed over Carlton’s baby grand piano. It’s a perfect symbol of the old merging with the new, indicative of Carlton’s adaptation to the ever-more immersive digitization of modern music.

While “Take it Easy” blends traditional instruments with electronics, “House of Seven Swords” is a pure digital bath, reminiscent of ambient groups such as Björk and Múm. It spirals and expands outwards as if crystallization is happening in fast-motion. “Operator” evokes a feeling of running through a light blizzard. It’s driving and fast-paced from the get go; the addition of snare drum adds an extra sense of urgency.

Altogether, this session showcases Carlton as an extremely well-rounded and adaptable artist, one who has staying power long after an initial meteoric rise. Here, she stands “A Thousand Miles” away from who she was in the early 2000’s. In a new decade that glorifies darker, deeper sounds with an ever present reliance on synthesizer, Vanessa Carlton embraces the new normal with elegance and gusto all her own.

—Cory Healy