Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heroes & Thieves - still no release in the UK!

I've been waiting for this since forever but there is still apparently no official UK release, and it was exactly the same with Harmonium three years ago. Quite what is going on here is a mystery to me but, such nonsense notwithstanding, I now have a genuine US release that is distributed by Universal Music. That it had to come from the US is merely an annoyance that can again be blamed, almost certainly, on major label machinations and not the artist.

Vanessa Carlton - Heroes & Thieves (2007)
(click image to view at 900 x 900 px.)

The album itself it is as stunning as it should be and a true progression from the first two, Be Not Nobody (2001) and Harmonium (2004). It is less obviously piano-heavy than the latter but also rather more assured than the former. It is quite possible that the reason Harmonium sold poorly compared with her début was, at least in part, because it was less easily accessible to the myriad floating-buyers and maybe even lyrically unpalatable (the lead single White Houses in particular) to the conservatively minded. I actually, and not just to be awkward, much prefer Harmonium to Be Not Nobody and so I can certainly see where Heroes & Thieves is going.

She has certainly not sold out but the piano aspect, although very much still there, is not so predominant. Her songwriting is actually at most only a little less quirky than it was on Harmonium but this album is less likely to provoke a boycott by the conservative element and actually marks a return to favour in the US. The odd thing is that I suspect the factor that, at least in part, has facilitated this is that the album was produced by none other than Linda Perry -
a former member of 'Four Non-Blondes' - who is also no stranger to a conservative backlash, as she experienced first hand after a US TV appearance, but has since become one of the most reliable US pop producers (and also songwriters) of recent times and particularly so for female artists.

I haven't really settled on favourite album tracks yet but, having listened to it several times now, I like it every bit as much as Harmonium overall and thus also more than Be Not Nobody. My current opinion is that it that there isn't a weak track on this album and it just seems more natural and less fractious than the latter and also so much more complete than the former. Excellent though Harmonium is, and I still listen to it regularly and not only for its highlight tracks, Heroes & Thieves is thus probably even better!
Interestingly enough track 5 - The One - features what might seem a rather risky undertaking that works beyond the extent that it doesn't seem in the least out of place. The co-vocalist on this track is an icon of 1970s pop - none other than Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac (and also considerable solo) fame.

Heroes & Thieves is more commercial than Harmonium, that is certain, but the truth is that doesn't necessarily mean it can't also be better.

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