Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week, Billboard taps chart-topping artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. We give the artists free rein to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Vanessa Carlton is bringing some musical joy to your social distancing on Friday when she releases her sixth studio album, Love Is an Art. The 11-track LP marks Carlton’s first full-length release since 2015’s Liberman, as well as her first time working with veteran indie-rock producer Dave Fridmann (MGMT, Flaming Lips).
With nearly five years of experiences and a new producer in her back pocket, Carlton had all sorts of new inspiration for Love Is an Art. And for her Takeover Tuesday playlist, Carlton is sharing some of the tunes that not only influenced her new material, but even one song that led her to working with Fridmann.
But instead of simply calling her playlist “Album Inspirations,” Carlton titled it “Brain Transports,” giving fans a glimpse of the journey her mind took during the Love Is an Art creation process. The 10-song lineup includes a classic from Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine”) as well as tracks with stunning musical elements similar to the dynamic piano Carlton brings in her own music, like Vashti Bunyan, “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind.”
Pre-order Love Is an Art here, and check out Carlton’s full “Brain Transports” playlist — along with some comments from the singer herself — below.
Vaughan Williams, “Symphony No.5 in D major: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis”: This is a piece that was a model for the dynamic wing span on my record. The highs are super high and the lows super low. Sometimes you need to turn down the volume during swells. I wanted that on this album. Not overly compressed but expansive like classical live recordings. Dave was super into that.
Vashti Bunyan, “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind”: This song set such a distinct scene. The hypnotic vocal casts it’s own spell, and then you have these big splashes of horn and the piano unfurling. Solid recipe.
Les Paul and Mary Ford, “Smoke Rings”: This is just a stop-you-in-your-tracks record. Pure genius and simplicity. Not a lot of bells and whistles. just the most stunning vocals with a simple a beautiful arrangement recorded brilliantly. That’s all ya need.
Philip Glass, “Forgetting”: This piece is used as an instrumental in one of my most favorite pieces of art, the ballet Glass Pieces with choreography by Jerome Robbins. Dave sent it as a reference, and I near lost my mind by the coincidence. This was a vocal influence for “I Know You Don’t Mean It.”
Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”: This is my favorite record ever made. It stops the room for a breathe.
They Being Dead Yet Speaketh, “Pt 1 (From the Miners’ Hymns Soundtrack”: This is an instrumental piece that was on my inspo list, sonically and musically. The horn arrangements are stunning. It’s pure cinema.
Mercury Rev, “Holes”: This song is one of the reasons why I was so set on the idea of working with Dave Fridmann. He was the bass player in Mercury Rev and he also produced this. He has such a distinct point of view. He provides the bridge between two worlds. At times you’re on the earth, and then you’re on the moon, and then you’re somewhere else in the universe you’ve never been before. I was literally writing these songs for him to produce, long before I knew if working with him was a possibility.
The Stranglers, “Golden Brown”: This is an example of effortless songwriting. This sounds to me like the song just flowed out of someone’s hands. Unusual timing, but it comes the heart not the head so it just flows. The production is simple and the way the engineer captured the instruments along with a bold mix makes this song stand out. My 5-year-old asks to hear this on repeat.
PJ Harvey, “The Garden”: This song is one of my favorites. I wore this CD out when it came out in 1998. I love the arrangement. The random extra bars. I love a random left turn in a production. We did that in “Miner’s Canary.”
Vanessa Carlton, “Miner’s Canary”: This song embodies a lot of elements of this playlist…the mix is so dynamic it almost hurts at the end. I wanted that. I wanted the discomfort. That completes the journey of the song.And the horns in the chorus is such a release. We also wanted there to be that left turn to break up the a/b nature of the song. My favorite part of the song is the ramp up in to the second chorus.