Be Not Nobody

VANESSA CARLTON: Be Not Nobody (A&M)With all the advances women have made in the music industry, amazingly, pigeon holing still runs rampant. If you exhibit the slightest bit of anger you're suddenly the next Alanis. If you create pop with a punch, there's the promise of a new Madonna. Dare you achieve success at a young age and you're an overnight heir to the pop princess throne of Debbie Gibson or Britney Spears. Carlton's aptly titled Be Not Nobody acknowledges such comparisons, only to confidently plow ahead and attempt to create a niche all her own.

As much as we all hate to admit it, we often use comparisons to give listeners an idea of what they are in store for. That being said, Carlton will likely be lumped in with the likes of Michelle Branch or Lindsay Pagano, because of timing more than anything else. Her music, however, garners some rather justified comparisons to brooding piano players such as a younger Tori Amos or a less jaded Fiona Apple.

Ridden with thoughtful subject matter and one word titles, Be Not Nobody hints at a less is more, stripped down approach to song writing and playing. Carlton succeeds in this mission, proving one girl and a piano truly can be a powerful combo. Lyrical depth illustrated on tracks such as "Rinse," "Sway" and "Paradise" safely separates her from many surface pop rock comparisons. "Wanted" has a Jewel-like mentality, but is a Carlton classic in the making. In fact, a strong classical influence is evident throughout the entire collection.

The standout track "A Thousand Miles," exudes a 'Fame'-like, 'I'm gonna make it after all' energy, one which Carlton no doubt toyed with after leaving her aspirations to be a full time dancer behind a few years prior. Only time will tell if the prophetic "A Thousand Miles" is also indicative of Carlton's career longevity.

© 2002 Janet Branagan
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