For her fourth album, Rabbits on the Run (Razor & Tie), Carlton needed a fresh start. She had been going at full sprint since she was discovered by legendary record executive Ahmet Ertegun when she was still a teenager, signed by Jimmy Iovine soon after, and exploded onto the pop scene with the platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated Be Not Nobody in 2002. But as she was nearing thirty, Carlton felt lost.
Ultimately, Vanessa made her way to Peter Gabriel's Real World studios in Box, England, where she created something that harks back to a different era of music-making: ten intimate, evocative songs, recorded direct to tape with a close-knit team of collaborators including producer Steve Osborne, drummer Patrick Hallahan from My Morning Jacket, and guitarist Ari Ingber of the Upwelling. It was not, however, an easy road to get there.
The songs that make up Rabbits on the Run retain Carlton's impeccable melodic sensibility, but are consistently surprising and unpredictable. "Carousel," the opening track and first single, sets a lilting and lyrical mood, while "Hear the Bells" creates a feel that s more ambient and creepy. The structures shift and veer on "London" and "Dear California," yet never lose their propulsion.