As the Wayans brothers' movie White Chicks made hilariously clear, Vanessa Carlton's 2002 hit "A Thousand Miles" is, like, the whitest song ever. This year, our huffy ivory-tickler delivers another spazzy, arpeggiated single, "White Houses," which is not about the real White House but does kind of conjure the Bush twins jamming in a drop-top. Smartly produced by Third Eye Blind frontman (and Carlton squeeze) Stephan Jenkins, Harmonium has the appealing empty-auditorium sound of a Fame rehearsal-session finale. And once you get past the "Chopsticks" pounds of "San Francisco," lyrics such as "I know what you did/Like a boy of summer gives his first kiss" could charm Dawson from his creek. But though Carlton's a better lyricist than faded contemporaries such as Michelle Branch, that fussy piano tends to muscle her out of her own songs. It works OK on the Tori Amos-style diary-hurler "Annie," but it's nice when, on the chorus of the boppy "Private Radio," those little hammers get some rest.
(Posted: Nov 25, 2004)
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