On Thursday December 17, 2015, Vanessa Carlton took the stage in front of a packed audience at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN for the final date of the year’s “Liberman” Tour.
She’ll candidly admit that countless thoughts swirled around in her head—“I was feeling pretty emotional about how far I’ve come.” Here, the singer and songwriter was back in her new home of Nashville, TN surrounded by family and fans, 15 years into an illustrious career, and supporting her most acclaimed work to date, Liberman. Just two months earlier, the album arrived to unanimous critical praise from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Boston Globe, Nylon, Paste, Esquire, and many more in addition to Pitchfork who claimed, “A million years ago, Vanessa Carlton released ‘A Thousand Miles,’ the pop song that launched a generation of piano lessons. Now, she's releasing the raw, muted, refreshingly weird Liberman, a record that could share headspaces with Perfume Genius or Angel Olsen."
The night marked a first for the artist as she recorded the show for 2016’s Liberman Live [Dine Alone Records]. Now, the nine-song collection captures the evening’s magic augmented by surprise performances from her husband Deer Tick frontman John McCauley, The Watson Twins, violinist Skye Steele and album producer Adam Landry. Moments such as “Operator,” which featured all of the guests on stage, and an emotional rendition of “River” speak to Carlton’s inimitable presence, passion, and power in person.
“The whole message of the album is expressing a lot of philosophies about my life, peace, pain, and happiness over the past ten years,” she says. “I wanted this record to not only be very personal to me, but an expression of these ideas. A performance is not just about the performer at all; it’s about the connection between the audience and the artist. You’re at your most vulnerable on stage, and you’re singing songs that are an expression of yourself. That’s when a performance works. That’s when an album works. Liberman was special because it does that. I feel like the show does too.”
A victory lap and celebration, that evening begins and ends with the record. You could say an unusual light shines through Liberman, Vanessa Carlton’s fifth album. Its ten songs, built on ethereal melodies and lush orchestration, seem to climb out of the shadows, each resonating with a sense of haunting positivity. The opening track, “Take It Easy,” instantly sets the tone, inviting the listener into a sort of sonic euphoria: each note and lyric thereafter builds on that aesthetic, creating an ongoing narrative that unfurls over its classic side A and side B.