Vanessa Carlton, Vivid Colors Come to Life Through Sound

Grammy award nominated artist Vanessa Carlton put on a stunning performance at the Soiled Dove Underground on Monday night. Read the review and check out the slideshow of this beautiful performance.

By Veronica Lee

The stage is set; a baby grand piano to stage right and stage left is a simple seat encircled with various stringed instruments. A beautiful and larger than life, fluid oil painting of a singular, fair haired woman painted from three different angles is directly in the center. Side and front glimpses of her nude body are positioned just so; this is intentional, romantic, and extremely personal. The Soiled Dove Underground, located in the Lowry area of Denver, creates the perfect ambiance as people trickle in, entering the atmosphere that has been created just for them. Couples seated at high tops, sharing intimate space in the dimness of the underground, sip on their cocktails and remember back to the first time they heard “that song.” That song, by name alone is memorable, but undeniably likeable within the first 2 bars.

Vanessa Carlton first exploded into pop culture and the music scene in 2002 with the massively successful A Thousand Miles. Carlton gathered Grammy nominations in Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), it spiked to No. 5, where it remained for 3 consecutive weeks, and remained on the chart for another 39 weeks. Her debut album which featured the hit track sold 101,000 copies in its first week alone. She also saw major radio play with singles Ordinary Day and White Houses as well as released the single Big Yellow Taxi with The Counting Crows. She has released 5 full length studio albums and is well known for her charity work.

Quite an impressive resume, and the room glistens with reflections of green and blue stage lights as the house lights dim. Carlton gracefully enters and takes a seat at the piano, “Let’s just get the elephant out of the room” she says and touches those recognizable keys to being. The opening 2 bars of A Thousand Miles resonates and captures giggles as well as the attention of the entire room. Played to perfection with accompaniment from her bandmate on the violin, Skye Steele, there is not a single face that isn’t captured in a smile.

And then, the show goes on. Between other familiar favorites like White Houses and her allied anthem to the LGBT community of Who’s to Say, she charmed and warmed the Soiled Dove. With anecdotes of personal inspiration and past lives in ballet school, she tells stories of family and juxtapositions of imagery. She even recalls her exodus from the major record label world and describes her escape which led to the “post baroque death tour.” During this time, she discovered violinist Steele, who she compared matching Victorian vests with and convinced to tour with her. Now, after 7 years collaborating, he is still her road and live performance companion.

At the mid point of the set, with gentle direction and excited permission from the audience, Carlton then takes the audience on a journey. A journey to a land where color becomes sound and emotions are explored and exposed. Liberman, the title of the current album, is a concept album and Carlton desired to transport the audience into this world with her. The record is named after her grandfather, who was a clothing designer as well as the artist of the painting on display and she talks of how the choice strokes were the inspiration of this album. Sitting at her piano, she would get lost in a dream of colors as she admired that painting on the wall directly in front of her.

And transport to another world is exactly what Carlton and Steele did in the Underground of the Soiled Dove. The two make an amazing pair, executing harmonies on instruments and vocals as well as crafting glorious sonic layers through looping. Lyrics of “As your castle crumbles down/ And it will/ Take it easy” and “Do you know love/Like a bullet to the chest” creates vivid images, just as the bright pastel yellows and oranges of the painting directly ahead. Vanessa Carlton effortlessly transcended pop star status and presented a stunning collection of melodic pieces of art.

Liberman is currently streaming and has been released as a full length studio produced album as well as live version. Click the links below to hear the music and catch up on her latest release, Earlier Things Live.


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Listen to Liberman Live here

Check out Earlier Things Live here

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