Vanessa Carlton gets intimate in Boston


Courtesy of Eddie Chacon

Grammy-nominated artist Vanessa Carlton descended on The Sinclair in Cambridge Monday night as her latest installment of her tour, promoting her new album “Liberman,” which was released in Oct. 2016.

“Liberman” is comprised of indie-pop songs, a sound that is almost a complete 180 from her initial debut in the early 2000’s as a sugar-sweet pop sensation. Most of the tracks on her recent album had a slower tempo, which helps put the listener in a dreamy state of mind. As Carlton’s voice sailed over each note, she drew listeners further into that dream-like state.


The 36-year-old singer-songwriter kicked off the night with her 2002 chart topper “A Thousand Miles.” The young audience swayed as they sang along, still remembering the lyrics after 15 years.


The album was named after her Carlton’s grandfather, who was an artist, war veteran and a driving force behind her music. The singer said she only recently found out from her mother that her grandfather legally changed his name to Liberman after returning from war.

“My family is the type where we just kind of drop bombs over breakfast and it’s like in the most random times, random years,” she said in between songs.


In the beginning of the show, Carlton also explained that she wanted the album to take the listener to a fantasyland that made them forget about their surroundings.


“It’s like one of those walking albums,” Carlton said. “I wanted it to be like when you walk with your headphones on and you go into that zone.”


Before performing most of the songs, Carlton paused to take a sip of red wine and explain to the crowd what inspired her to write the song. Everything she sang contained a powerful message about issues that were important to her, such as family and human rights.

As she was about to perform “Who’s To Say,” a song about LGBTQ rights, she gestured to the audience and said that we are all equal.


“Everyone gets to be who they are, so when I sing it, it means everybody because we’re all connected. We are all connected,” she said.


The singer also took a moment to talk about her family and her life growing up in a rural town in Pennsylvania. She reminisced on some of her childhood memories, sharing that she found pleasures in small moments of life that she shared with her family, like staying in a cabin that was family-owned. During her set she remembered the high number of willow trees that surrounded the cabin and how they made up a large part of the surrounding landscape.  


Memories like this from her youth inspired the song “Willows,” which the singer said was an ode to the type of lifestyle she believed her mother wanted to create.


Perhaps one of the most memorable things from Carlton’s performance was a print of an oil painting that acted as the backdrop of the stage. The painting was of a woman with her bare breasts exposed and dirty blonde hair flowing loosely around her ears. According to Carlton, her grandfather depicted the same woman in three separate paintings and shared that they had acted as a source of inspiration during her songwriting.


Carlton has come a long way since 2002 by not only releasing more albums and going on tour, but by becoming a mother and raising a two-year-old daughter alongside her husband.
After Cambridge, Carlton is traveling to cities such as New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to continue her tour.