Though it has been four years since Vanessa Carlton delved into the studio for a new release (not since 2007’s Heroes & Thieves), her game has remained unchanged for the most part as she still deftly waxes introspective on her first release for indie giants Razor & Tie, Rabbits on the Run. This new batch of songs finds Carlton sticking to her guns and doing what she does best – lay delicate, melancholy vocals atop a bed of lush piano.
Carlton is mostly an island throughout Rabbits on the Run, though this release could be looked at as her most adventurous to date in some aspects. The quirky “Carousel” employs the use of hand-clapping and a children’s choir, while the moody “Hear the Bells” utilizes atmospherics, something Carlton isn’t exactly known for. But that’s just it, with Rabbits, Carlton isn’t expected to sound a certain way, and it seems her new label home isn’t intent on pigeonholing her sound just to move some more records. And while some of Rabbits dabbles in overt experimentation (well, for Carlton at least), it’s not to say that this isn’t an accessible release. They might be somewhat few and far between, but there are radio-ready songs on Rabbits in which Carlton showcases her renewed pop sensibilities (“Dear California,” “Tall Tales for Spring”), though its mostly her improved vocal work that shines time and time again (“I Don’t Want to Be a Bride,” “Marching Line”).
Carlton has come a long way throughout her career since her breakthrough hit “A Thousand Miles,” and while Rabbits on the Run isn’t entirely the grandiose vehicle to rocket Carlton to the top of the charts once again, it’s a giant leap in the right direction, and sonic proof that she is still capable of such an opus.
Listen to: “Fairweather Friend”