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Vanessa Carlton at The Art, 3 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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It's been 15 yeas since Vanessa Carlton released her debut album, "Be Not Nobody," which featured the Grammy Award-nominated anthem "A Thousand Miles."

And she can hardly be accused of not using her time wisely.

Since then the singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania has released five studio albums and has been particularly busy the past year and a half with 2015's ambitious "Liberman," the subsequent "Liberman Live" and another concert set, "Earlier Things Live," from the same shows. She's gone from being a major label darling to fiercely independent, and even though that big hit always looms large Carlton -- who's married to Deer Tick's John McCauley and has a one-year-old daughter, Sidney -- is making arguably the best music of her career and anticipates plenty more music ahead of her...

Contemplating her 15-year anniversary, Carlton says she's generally satisfied with the way things have gone. "I feel like, in hindsight, it's been an evolution that makes sense, that's been really organic" Carlton, 36, says by phone. "I started as a total pop girl, but I don't do well as, like, a cog in the machine where you submit for approval and things like that. That led to me leaving the major label system, and I felt this freedom and opportunity I never felt before. That process was a total rebirth, and refreshing, like, 'Oh, this is the beginning of the rest of my career. The way I do it now seems...very sustainable to me."

Carlton says that over time many of her songs take on new meanings or perspectives, and she says that since the birth of her daughter even "A Thousand Miles" -- which was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year -- made more sense to me. It just kind of felt like this weird, stalkerish-sounding song to me until I became a mom, and then it was, 'Oh, I get it.' There were a lot of people who liked that song when it came out years ago who were overseas in the Army or Navy and they loved it, men and women who were away from her families. I understand how they feel now more than I did before."

While Carlton is still enjoying some buzz for "Liberman," she's already working on something new. "I just started demoing a new project," she says. "I'm a writer that doesn't write for a long time and then writes the record. I don't like to write every day, and I don't write all the time. If I want to stop writing for a year, I'm OK with that; The time away contributes to the writing I do, too. I don't write much more usually than what ends up on the record, either. Every writing has a different way they go about it. Some want to be writing all the time, but I just don't."

Vanessa Carlton and Tristen

8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.

The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.

Tickets are $30.

Call 734-761-1818 or visit theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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