Infatuation, longing, love and devotion are just a few of the rather grown-up topics running through Vanessa Carlton's debut album, Be Not Nobody.
While few 21-year-old newcomers have actually borne the brunt of the emotions Carlton sings about in songs like "Unsung," about a crush turned obsession, or "Paradise," a yearning for fairy-tale happy endings, what Carlton lacks in experience she makes up for with an active and emotionally accurate imagination.
"Everything I write is pretty personal," she said. "But that doesn't necessarily make it nonfictional, because there are times where you just dream and you have your little fantasies going on in your head, and that will sometimes come out in my lyrics."
Carlton has always been a bit ahead of her time. At age 2 she figured out how to play "It's a Small World" on piano after a visit to Disney World with her folks. By 8 she composed her first original tune. Casting off a dorm room at New York's School of American Ballet for a flat in Hell's Kitchen, where she honed her skills as a pop pianist with classical inflection, she performed at open-mic nights around the city, eventually catching the attention of A&R scouts from A&M Records.
Her ability to stay ahead of the curve didn't end there. More than two months before her debut album was released, its first single, "A Thousand Miles," began surfacing at radio and video outlets. Thanks to the early buzz, Be Not Nobody debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling more than 101,000 copies its first week.
"A Thousand Miles" is hardly the end of Carlton's gold-, possibly platinum-plated road to success. "Ordinary Day" looks to follow in its predecessor's triumphant footsteps, and given the fact that it's one of Carlton's favorite cuts on the album, her fans are expected to embrace it wholeheartedly.
"It was actually one of the first songs that I wrote," she explained. "I love it because it's a waltz. It dances, the song just dances. At the same time, it has huge strings which I love and it's got that classical essence that I always try to capture in my music."
Marc Klasfeld (Sum 41, Jay-Z), who helmed the clip for "A Thousand Miles," reclaimed his seat in the director's chair for the "Ordinary Day" clip, which is expected to surface in June, according to a label spokesperson.
"In this video, I actually get to sneak out from behind the piano," she revealed. "I don't want to give it all away, but there's a lot of love going on in the video, let's put it that way.
"And it's cool because throughout the whole thing, I'm the only one that's walking upright. It's confusing, but once you see it you'll understand."