Be Not Nobody
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
With her debut
single, "A Thousand Miles" Vanessa Carlton was predestined to pop
stardom. The success of R&B starlet Alicia Keys was reason enough
for this prediction; here we had a young, attractive (read: MTV-friendly),
musician who made it big. It only makes perfect business
sense to build upon this phenomenon with a white girl playing the
piano (building on Keys' rebirth of piano kitsch), singing pure
pop songs. Basically the idea is to take the bubblegum pop marketing
approach and mix it with real instruments.
this may appear what the whole Vanessa Carlton "phenomenon" stemmed
from; don't be fooled into thinking this is nothing more than
a hugely successful marketing ploy. Be Not Nobody is, surprisingly,
a fairly-strong debut.
generaly rarity of this style in music may lead one to believe
Carlton is headed for one-hit-wonderdom, what's amazing here is
the general strength throughout the album. While far from being
the next Fiona Apple, or a female Billy Joel there are definitely
connections to be made to an early Tori Amos - or an early Jewel
(where the guitar is simply traded in for a piano).
of Be Not Nobody, just as "A Thousand Miles" focuses primarily
on Carlton's piano and vocals, with a healthy dose of orchestration
and near over-production (a radio programmer's dream come true).
Yet the strongest points on the disc come through when Carlton
is left on her own with only her piano to aid her. This is most
evident in "Wanted" and the album's closer, "Twilight" which slowly
builds into sparse orchestration closing the disc nicely.
points, however, are those where the orchestration gets ahead
of her and she's forced to rely more heavily on her vocals - which
are sadly the most grating part of the disc. With a similar singing
style to Jewel, her forced syllables begin to burden the songs
ultimately ending up with either a feeling of repetiveness or
annoyance (dependent upon personal preference).
greatest horrors are the ballad "Pretty Baby" (a required staple
in any truly balanced pop album) and the horrendous cover of The
Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." Perhaps Carlton felt obliged
to prove her "rock 'n' roll" roots, but it's a move best tapped
as a live show rarity - not as a song to actually listen to more
Miles" has already proven Carlton has star power, and the rest
of the album will undoubtedly follow in this vein. It's produced
perfectly for fans of "skilled" pop musicians, and it's destined
to be a radio treasure chest - great for the masses but not so
great for the general music-enthusiast.
liked Be Not Nobody...