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Carlton Strikes a Balance with Sophomore Set

Los Angeles – Vanessa Carlton is realistic.

She knows today’s musical environment is not always friendly toward pop-oriented artists who play their instruments and write their songs, as she does.

In fact, Carlton says she is gladly straddling the fence between “being true to myself as a musician and being embraced commercially” with her sophomore album, “Harmonium,” due Nov. 9 from A&M/Interscope Records.

“It’s nice to be back and be the alternative to the more calculated, poppy acts out there,” the 24-year-old artist says. “I feel lucky that I’m able to appeal to real music lovers, and it also somehow works in a really commercial way without me sacrificing or selling myself out.”

The 10-track “Harmonium,” which was produced by Carlton’s beau, Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, indeed showcases her coming into her own. The album is full of classical-leaning piano riffs and features more heartfelt lyrics than her 2002 debut, “Be Not Nobody.”

Carlton’s debut has sold 1.4 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album, which earned the artist four Grammy Award nominations, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 51 weeks.

“Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff and Ashlee Simpson

are prominent media and television stars, and their music is an extension of their overall image,” A&M Records president Ron Fair says. “Vanessa is a singer-songwriter in the classic sense.”

Carlton calls the album’s first single, the upbeat “White Houses,” a “metaphor for simple innocence. It’s about the irony of these simple mundane places that hold so much controversy and pain and triumph all at the same time.”

The singer-songwriter says she wants to branch out into other musical outlets.

“After this album, I’d like to score a film,” Carlton says. “That’s something I want to get into, because I know I could be 65 and wrinkly and still be writing music. I’m also looking to incorporate dance, maybe go into theater or Broadway, and incorporate all the things that I do and love so much into one production or show.”

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