In the past year, Vanessa Carlton has gotten married, bought a house, moved to Nashville from New York City, and had her first child, a daughter. You might say it’s been a busy year.
“I have total mom brain,” she laughs on the phone. “Very in the moment. It really takes you out of spiraling thoughts of yourself.”
She adds, jokingly, “I really get lucky if I put together my own outfit to get out of the house.”
Which makes it all the more impressive that she’s releasing an album later this fall, called Liberman.
You probably remember Carlton from her ear worm hit “A Thousand Miles,” with a piano line that would get stuck in your head for weeks. (Terry Crews even lip synced it!) The song launched her into superstardom, and fame was kind to Carlton. But fame always has a flip side, and she felt like she had to write hits, considering the studio rather than focus on the music that she loved, the art she wanted to create.
“Starting in 2010, I kind of just went out and decided if I was going to do a record, I just wanted to do my own record,” she says. “I wanted to come up with my own idea and execute it.”
Fans will notice that “Blue Pool,” today’s premiere, is a far cry from her former work (though her adeptness on the piano shines through the pulsating piano line that races toward you, then quickly retreats). It’s a song born from focusing on what she wanted to create, rather than what she thought she should. But it’s also born of spending years worrying about what she thought she should.
“I think every move you make, whether it’s a mistake or not, is leading you toward something good, if you can think about it,” she says.
The best news? It was written before this life-changing year. Though she hasn’t spent much of the last year songwriting—as if she’d have the time!—it’s not hard to imagine that the record after the upcoming one will include some twists and turns, informed by her new life.
Even so, at the end of the day, Carlton’s view on songwriting is simple and, to borrow a word she used several times throughout our interview, “pure.”
“All you have is your process, and making something that is beautiful to you.”
Check out the track, below.
Each week, we bring you a new track with Music Premiere Monday by Associate Editor Travis M. Andrews. For music updates, follow Andrews and Southern Living on Twitter @travismandrews and @Southern_Living.