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Harmonium

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Album Review

On her second album, Harmonium, singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton enlists her boyfriend, Stephan Jenkins — best-known as the frontman of the popular post-grunge band Third Eye Blind — as a producer and co-songwriter, and his presence doesn't so much alter Carlton's music as give it a sharper, direct focus. Carlton and Jenkins focus on the lush, dramatic teen-age angst that made "A Thousand Miles" a big hit in 2002, using that song as the template for a collection of songs that are intimate on a grand scale. Carlton's songs often read like diary entries, dealing with such familiar adolescent themes as love and longing, and they sound even smaller when delivered in her thin but appealing girlish voice, but they gain stature when married to the cinematic arrangements, driven by her insistent, circular piano and dressed by light layers of strings, guitars, and vocal overdubs. Where her Be Not Nobody debut could sound endearingly awkward, Harmonium is confident and somber, a conscious attempt to be serious and mature.

Biography

Born: 16 August 1980 in Milford, PA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with Michelle Branch and Nelly Furtado, Vanessa Carlton helped usher in a new era of female songwriters during the early 2000s. "A Thousand Miles," her first single, was one of the biggest songs of 2002, topping the pop charts in America and cracking the Top Ten in England. None of her subsequent singles came close to matching that song's success, but Carlton continued releasing albums into the following decade, fine-tuning a sweeping, cinematic pop sound that featured her vocals and piano...
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Harmonium, Vanessa Carlton
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