Give 'Em a Chance!
I'm going to attempt to use this blog to give credit to albums which, in my opinion, are underrated or just unknown in general. You may not like my choices, and that's okay! But trust me when I say you can find beauty in any art if you give it a chance <3
This Entry's Underrated Album: Rabbits on the Run by Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton first made her appearance on the pop scene with the massive hit "A Thousand Miles," which is known now a days for being a cult classic more than an actual chart topper. To many, this song was Vanessa Carlton's only notable song, cementing her status as a "one-hit-wonder." Many people were not even aware that the single was accompanied by the debut album Be Not Nobody, assuming that the single was the only work released to the public. However, not only did she create one album, but five albums in total.
Vanessa, like many other popstars at first, was a slave to the image that her label concocted for her. The music she desired to create was not something the general public or the record label was interested in. Her first three albums were specifically pop, generally following the same pattern. While artistic growth in terms of complexity and writing styles were still strikingly prevalent as the albums progressed from her first, second (Harmonium), and third albums (Heroes and Thieves), nothing really prepared her small group of fans to the shift she would take in her fourth.
Finally able to release music she was truly interested in, Vanessa began to craft what is, in my humble opinion, her greatest work to this date. After a long hiatus that spanned 2007 to 2011 (release year), Rabbits on the Run was finally available to the public. The album itself spawned no successful singles, it received good reviews by critics. Stephen Erlewine from AllMusic remarked that "This [was] music made with no audience in mind: it is strikingly personal." And it shows. Carlton shifted drastically from pop music directly to an indie-like approach.
What this album aesthetic feels like to me:
When I listen to this album I feel a strong sense of wondering and peace. It really has the ability to draw out very raw and personal emotions from deep within, allowing me to mull them over. Sound dramatic? Probably. But it is the best way to describe how I feel during this album. When I imagine a good aesthetic for this album, I picture a quiet night after a long, taxing day full of emotion. In a cabin by the woods during spring, with cold rain tapping gently on the window, a glass of wine in hand, a good book, and warm blankets to cuddle up in. Or possibly taking a walk in a mysterious enchanting forest.
A Brief Track by Track Review:
A beautiful way to begin the album. This song is very light-hearted and hopeful about finding new love after it is lost. (7/10)
I Don't Want to Be a Bride
A summery song about finding your true love, but not wanting to have to "wear white" to spend forever with them. The imagery used in this song is well crafted and is showcased by Vanessa's warm vocals. (8/10)
This is the song that truly began my love of Vanessa. Not only is this one of, if not the best songs on the album, but it also happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time. To me, the lyrics are extremely relatable and thought provoking. "I've never been so sure that after all these years I'll never learn that heavenly creatures never come," Vanessa sings as she pours her heart out into the mic. This song is about feeling fooled by a relationship, love, or crush. The narrator feels tired of waiting and searching for that special someone, lamenting that she is wasting away her time waiting for her "new age." (10/10)
A feathery song about an old lover/friend who only seems to think about fame or the luxuries of life. Vanessa knows that this person is only faking it through life without really ever facing reality. (6/10)
Hear the Bells
One of the more mysterious songs on the album, "Hear the Bells" is a song that wrestles with the vagueness of life and the difficulties of life. Rampant metaphors are seen through this song, as Vanessa moves through the different ways she searches for an answer. This track has a charm about it that is hard to explain, which may have something to do with its overall unexplained overall message. However, this could be a perfect metaphor for life itself: not sure how to figure it out, but it is fascinating to try. (8/10)
This song is the closest this album gets to pop as a whole. Its deep lyrics are contrasted breezily with an upbeat and danceable rhythm. I can't help singing along to this song or tapping my foot when it comes on my shuffle. Great song to sing in the car! "But he loves me as I leave, so I've gotta go!" (9/10)
Tall Tales for Spring
This. This is the song that is arguably the crowning jewel of the album. Deliciously mischievous with wicked lyrics and an involved instrumental, this song conjures the almost cynical side of the phenomena of love, life, spirituality, and "madness of the heart." Truthfully, I'm not sure exactly what this song is truly trying to tell the listener. However, this is what I believe makes it so intriguing. Production wise, this is the most intense song of the album, which comes as an insane jolt of energy compared to its rather calm and easy sister songs. If a listener was to pick only one song to listen to from this album, I'd highly suggest this one. This song and its counterpart In the End are magnificent and crown the album with grace and pride. (10/10)
A few choice lyrics that happen to be some of my favorite:
"The wicked in me is surely the wicked in you.
We pray to a ghost that we've never met.
Time turns for a cure from the scientists for
Madness of the heart."
"Hawking will tell us no tall tales this spring,
Our minds hold the ciaos that started everything."
Taking it down a notch after the previous song, this piece reminds me of a rainy day in a cafe. The topic is recovery after a rough patch in life. Vanessa encourages a friend to take a minute, breathe, and take a moment "to get good again." (8/10)
The Marching Line
A lone piano starts off this track, capturing attention immediately. This song slowly swells like the slow anxiety of walking up to your destiny and future. While this is the track that is most somber, it is by no means a dud. Essentially, Vanessa reflects on how her future is calling and she must leave all of what she knows behind in order to fulfil her life. She will sail on a ship with no captain, off into the grey seas. "Fortune tellers, fortunes tell her..." (9/10)
In the End
Never fails to give me chills. This is the best way to end the album. I had mentioned previously that this was the counterpart to Tall Tales for Spring, this is because the instrumental is TTFS slowed down and given a more ambient sound. While the song itself is considerably short and only has a handful of lyrics, it is easily the most haunting and magical track on the album. In the End reflects on how death is inevitable and unavoidable, after all it's the way of all things. As I listen to this song, I imagine sinking deep into a black, peaceful ocean. And with this song the album comes to a close. (10/10)
Highlights of the Album
Tall Tales for Spring, London, In the End, The Marching Line, & Dear California
Overall Rating: 7.8/10
Thank you for reading my first blog post! Hopefully if this goes well I'll do more!