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Exclusive: Grammy nominee Vanessa Carlton on 'Liberman,' Nashville & Surfrider

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Twelve years after she rocked the music world with her smash hit single "A Thousand Miles," singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton is on the cusp of releasing her fifth album, a 10-song collection entitled "Liberman." The talented musician and newlywed has also partnered with the Surfrider Foundation and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly to spread the word about the eighth annual Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue, which kicked off in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on May 10 and will conclude Aug. 23 in San Diego.

The Beach Rescue Project is a 15-city campaign aimed at keeping beaches across America barefoot-friendly. In celebration of the project, Carlton, 33, will perform for fans aged 21 and over who take part in the June 14 clean-up of Beach 67 in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. Interested parties can get more information on scheduled clean-up dates and locations by visiting BeachRescue2014.com.

During an exclusive June 5 interview with Examiner, Carlton covered a variety of topics. The discussion meandered from her involvement with the Beach Rescue Project to how the legendary Stevie Nicks wound up officiating her marriage to Deer Tick's John McCauley and beyond.

How did you first get involved with the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project?

To be honest, I didn't know that they had this beach cleanup, which is so cool. They asked me to be a part of it, and that's when I found out more about it.... We got the email [to help out] four months ago.

What is it about organizations like Surfrider that appeal to you?

The whole idea... of being a beach champion is just so wonderful. Who doesn't love the beach? I think organizations like that are some of the most important environmental organizations out there. They do really honorable work.

You said back in April that your new album, "Liberman," was in the process of being mastered. How close are we to a release date now?

Well, we don't have a release date yet, but the album is totally complete. We're working on the visual art to go along with the record.... I'm really excited to get it out there, but I don't have any more info yet for you, sorry.

Do you have a favorite track from your new album?

I think my favorite is a song called "Take it Easy."

I know this is kind of hard, but if someone made you pick three or four words to describe the overall tone or feeling of the new work, what would they be?

I would say it's lush. The songs are lush and they feel... very calm and meditative, but at the same time, I think the melodies are really strong so it goes down really easy. The sonics of the record are really amazing. I worked with Steve Osborne who's the sound engineer, and he comes up with these incredible sounds that are like you feel like you're in a dream or something... so I'd call it dreamy, and seance-y, meditative. It's great music for just walking and getting lost in music in your head, you know? Lyrically, it's not very personal, it's just more philosophical.

I know you're getting ready to so a mini tour in the northeast. What does the hour or so before you go on stage look like for you?

I usually go over things on the backstage keyboard the show is carried mainly by the piano... if I mess up on the piano, I'm like, screwed.... And then about an hour before I do hair and make-up.... For any woman, as you know, it can be a really nice ritual to just focus on doing that and kind of just tune everything out.

How do you think you've changed personally since you burst onto the music scene?

I think the most important thing is to really stay, like, level-headed and connected to what inspires you. To be ready to explore anything that you want to, and not bogged down by any kind of previous success or worried about how people view you. Being like a kid in terms of curiosity makes my career feel so fulfilling no matter what.

On your next-next release, if you could collaborate with any artist to make something really unique, who would you want to work with?

I’d love to apprentice with Howard Shore the composer. I particularly love his horn arrangements.

What are a couple of things that you would like to get done within the next year or so?

My husband and I just moved out of New York --I still have my place there, I'm just renting it out-- and we bought a bungalow in Nashville. We're here now, actually, just like, you know, putting up fences, well, watching people put up fences, getting the house ready, painting, it's just been awesome. I just got married in December. We want to start a family, create a home that we both really crave, you know what I mean?

So your wedding: I know that Stevie Nicks was your officiant. How did that end up happening, because that is so cool.

Yeah, it was so cool that she did it.... John and I were talking about what we wanted to do. We didn't want to have a wedding but we wanted to have a friend marry us in a beautiful place, and we were going to visit Stevie and her family anyway, which I've been doing for the past several years, and I thought gosh, she would be the perfect woman to marry someone. She just knows about love... So I asked her and she said yeah and it was really cool.

It looked beautiful. Congratulations!

Thank you.

I like to kind of wrap up my interviews by asking a couple of short-response questions. The best song of 2014 to date by anyone at all?

Oh... I need time to think about that. Can you give me the next one?

Sure. Where's your favorite place for down-time?

Now it's become Nashville. It's either Nashville or Walker Lake in Shohola.

Favorite flower?

To be honest, my favorite is not really a flower. I really love succulents.

Best movie ever made?

Gosh. Honestly, "The Money Pit." No one knows it, I think, but it's really good.

Have a song pick yet?

Yeah. There's a song called "Big House" that I really loved when it came out. It's the last song on the Deer Tick record ["Negativity"].

For more information on other projects sponsored by Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, check out their official website. Learn more about the Surfrider Foundation by visiting Surfrider.org.

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