After nabbing three Grammy nominations Tuesday, Vanessa Carlton isn't about to slow down.
The self-described workaholic has 10 songs written for the follow-up to her debut, Be Not Nobody, which she plans to record after returning from a European tour that kicks off January 26 in Copenhagen and concludes in London a month later.
"You record more, you write more," she said understatedly. "I never put a stop to my writing process."
If Be Not Nobody served as an introduction to Carlton's piano-based pop and crush-induced lyrics, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter's next album will shed some light on the darker side of her personality, a slice of which is hinted at in Be Not Nobody's third and probably last single, "Pretty Baby," and its accompanying video.
" 'Pretty baby,' is kind of a lullaby, but it's very dark in the sense that it's desperate," she said.
The video, which shows Carlton reminiscing about a boy whom she never wanted to let go of — so she tied him up — was created with Carlton's input, as was most of Be Not Nobody, including the artwork and song arrangements, for which she scored one of her three Grammy nominations. (The LP's first single, "A Thousand Miles," is up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.)
"People were really surprised by it," she explained. "They were like, 'This isn't Vanessa Carlton. This isn't who we thought she was.' It's a very twisted ending. ... I have a dark humor, and I thought it was hilarious."
Carlton plans to record on both coasts, using a variety of producers, including Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan). Though they're not yet on board, pop craftsman Jason Falkner and producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) round out her wish list of those she'd like to work with on her new album, which, like Be Not Nobody she plans to co-produce.
"I have a very clear vision of what this album is going to be," she explained. "It's going to involve choruses and flutes and trumpets, and it's just real. My goal is to make a Sgt. Pepper's [Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the most ambitious and best albums by the Beatles,] by a solo girl. It's kind of a large endeavor, but I'm very excited to get into the studio.
The as-yet-untitled album will display an older, wiser Carlton, evidenced by lyrics that are more mature and present a wider worldview.
"I have grown up a lot," she said. "It's lyrics of the heart. Lyrics that are confessional and driven with a lot of my own feelings. As you grow up, you start to observe more of the world around you, and you perceive it and interpret it in a different way. You start to challenge it more as you get older, and it really shows in your art."
For those who think Carlton is just another one among the new breed of pop stars, they may need a second look before jumping to any conclusions.
"People don't quite know what Vanessa is all about," she said, before apologizing for speaking of herself in the third person. "I'm as far from a little pop girl as you can possibly be."