Vanessa Carlton, Jenny O.
"Always building up, falling apart. Love is an art," sings Vanessa Carlton on the title track of her sixth album, Love Is An Art. Like the record itself, the song is a meditation on the eternal seesaw that is human connection: the push, the pull, the balance, the bottoming out. It's that constantly evolving nature of love, expectations and compassion that Carlton analyzes from all angles on Love Is An Art, from romantic, to parental, to the friends that hold us up and the leaders that repeatedly let us down. And on tracks like the album's opener, "I Can't Stay the Same," that also includes the relationship with the person staring back at us in the mirror, each and every morning.
"Love is the energy you put out into the world," says the Nashville-based Carlton, who was inspired in part by the 1956 book The Art of Loving by philosopher Erich Fromm, and by stories and struggles both in her interior world and the world around her. "And it can be so incredibly messy at times."
Produced by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, Flaming Lips), Love Is An Art finds Carlton reckoning with toxic relationships (the confessional "Miner's Canary"), eternal partnership ("Companion Star") and the children who fill the world with love and grace while politicians fill their pockets (the passionate "Die, Dinosaur," written after the shootings in Parkland, Florida). And true to Carlton’s skill as both a lyricist and an instrumentalist, the arrangements on Love Is An Art tell these tales as vibrantly as the words themselves: piano parts that speak of rage and tenderness, synths that burst and glow like dawn.
Love Is An Art doesn't just explore connections – it was also born of one. Carlton wrote the album with the acclaimed Nashville-based singer-songwriter Tristen, camped out and working while her daughter napped. "This record is about being out of my comfort zone," says Carlton. "What's going to happen when we do things that people assume are not naturally a match, like working with Dave Fridmann? I loved the idea of working with someone who’s known for a palette that isn’t associated with me, but it was a fit the second we started working together. Or what could happen when I sit with another writer, and just collaborate?"