Vanessa Carlton

Love Is an Art

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Love Is an Art Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Love Is an Art may resemble the hushed, spectral Liberman in its form and sound, but this 2020 album from Vanessa Carlton isn't a rehash of its 2015 predecessor. Carlton lifts the slight air of melancholy that hung over Liberman yet retains much of its atmospheric murk, emphasizing gently shifting moods as much as melody. Still, the title reveals her intentions here. She is focusing squarely on matters of the heart, writing about love both on a personal scale and in a larger dimension. Her songs are insinuating, not grabbing, slowly revealing their contours through the delicately interlocked keyboards. It may take time for the songs to reveal themselves, but many build to a cathartic crescendo, like the cascade of volume that closes "Future Pain" or the pulse that pushes "The Only Way to Love" to its conclusion. When combined with Carlton's generally hopeful outlook, these insistent dynamics help make Love Is an Art a complementary companion to Liberman: underneath its austere surface, there lays a warm, beating heart.

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