Review: Vanessa Calton – ‘Blue Pool’

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Filled with deep lyrics Vanessa Carlton proves she's grown but we're still missing that pop sound.

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Hearing the name Vanessa Carlton will likely inspire visuals of a young brunette woman pounding the ivory keys in a garage… then a highway… and then in New York City. But ‘A Thousand Miles’ released 14 years ago. These days, Carlton has swapped rosy-cheeked pop ballads for a more adult sound.

On the minimalist Blue Pool EP, which follows 2011’s Rabbits On the Run, Carlton continues to showcase her piano skills but layers on a little bit of synth haze, crisp acoustic strums, and thinned-out, but no less lovely, vocals.

While the track is easy listening it’s not going to make a massive impact the way Carlton has before. If anything the synth that’s layered over the top of the track takes away the vulnerability that Carlton’s voice holds and strips her of emotion. However, her vocals hold a dream-like quality that create a relaxed feel to the song but also invoke a timeless quality. The song is a paradox, in that it freeze-frames a moment while illustrating inevitable change.

So exactly how does time work its way into the lyrics? The first verse of the song finds Carlton meeting up with an old friend poolside in Los Angeles. She implies it’s been two years since they’ve spoken, adding, “I have been well, I say through a smile. These feelings, they come and go fast.”

Time brings change, another element Carlton addresses in the lyrics. Her friend is singing a new song, and they’ve both grown. She makes a reference to the adage, “timing is everything,” as she she speaks of their relationship: “The time for you and I, it was never quite right. That matters. That means everything.”

A constant theme in movies and literature is the idea that one can control time or destiny. Carlton tackles this concept as well, noting that “time, she’s always kept you on her good side. Some people they still fight their fate.” Even though two years have passed, she’s looking at the change optimistically.

Through all of her statements and gorgeous imagery, Carlton directs one question to the listener: “what is living to honour the past?” She doesn’t give an explicit answer, but, in the context of the rest of her lyrics, the singer seems to respect where she’s been and how it influences where she’s going. It is the lyrics that save the song.

While ‘Blue Pool’ may not climb up the singles charts it’s great for driving along in the sunshine or if you’re just looking to chill out.

‘Blue Pool’ will be included on the Blue Pool EP, which is out Friday 24th July. Carlton’s full-length album, Liberman, which will contain all of the EP tracks, is scheduled for release in late October.

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BA English student at University of Southampton and Editor for The Edge (2015-16). A deep love of reading, theatre and all things entertainment.

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