Vanessa Carlton – Heroes and Thieves Review

Well I bought it (see previous Vanessa post) and I’ve listened to it a few times now so I feel ready to review it.

Again its piano led pop-rock and this album slides inbetween the same gap that was formed between the previous two albums but it has the impression of “more of the same” and no real progression. That is good if you loved the first two albums, bad if you were expecting something different or more.

“Nolita Fairytale” is a fantastic single, as is “Hands on Me”. They are very commercial American pop that’s a little left of the middle and that’s why she should have done well out of them. Sadly that market has long since being sucked dry and diluted. “Nolita Fairytale”‘s hook easily rivals “A Thousand Miles” and so it starts off well and the end of “Hands on Me” with lots of voices going off in a type Carlton climax really works well. “Spring Street” swaps piano more for guitar and more vocal ad-libs which is pleasant if not as compelling as the previous duo.

“My Best” doesn’t work so well as it’s too happy and minimalistic at the same time and the ending sounds messy (apart from the after-fade out) and with the song coming across regal it backfires. “Come Undone” brings in the much in fashion these days organ but its a bit uninspired. The song itself is jolly and light enough before it gets to the middle of the song and suddenly you think…I’ve heard this chord progression before. Yes, its in almost every single middle bridge in the whole album… that’s not keeping in a thought pattern, its just lazy.

“The One” is another one that suffers from laziness with a poor ending and sticking to the same formulae. The title track is a bit more waltzy and brings a bit more much needed variety which is quickly dampened by “This Time” which is like a slower “Come Undone”. “Fools Like Me” then sounds exactly like “Hands on Me” to the point where its unfortunate.

“Home” is much needed piano/orchestra/vocal piece and the fact that this song is so good then infuriates as to why Vanessa seems to be stuck appealing to the masses when if she did her own thing a bit more she’d probably gain more of an identity. “More Than This” is another nice song showcasing Vanessa’s excellent voice.

I’m at a loss with this album. I enjoyed this album to listen to but was left wanting a little more. It appears that some of Vanessa’s songs have been regurgitated and it doesn’t work as well as “Harmonium”. For Vanessa to keep herself going she’ll need to change something for her next album at risk of making some of her better work becoming stale and samey. A shame.

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