Vanessa Carlton's 'Rabbits on the Run'

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Matt Gallagher


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Singer, songwriter and pianist Vanessa Carlton’s fourth studio album, Rabbits on the Run (Razor & Tie), marks her first collaboration with UK-based producer Steve Osborne. “After my last record [Heroes & Thieves, 2008], I was out of juice,” Carlton says. She found creative rejuvenation in listening to the music she grew up with, on vinyl. “I loved those records! It was clear: This is how I want to make my records.” She describes Rabbits on the Run as “the most clear-minded and pure reflection of my sense of music that I’ve ever been able to achieve. It’s also the most collaborative because everyone was so clear about what it was going to sound like.”

Osborne brought Carlton, drummer Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket) and guitarist Ari Ingber (The Upwelling) into Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath, England, and joined the trio on bass. For 10 days, they tracked songs in the Wood Room with engineer Dan Austin, going to tape, which was Carlton’s desired tracking medium. For most songs, Carlton played an upright piano recorded through ADL and Chandler outboard gear, and sang into a Soundelux ELUX 251 tube mic. Additionally, Osborne produced brass and string sessions at Konk Studios in London, as well as a children’s choir in Abbey Road Studios, recording to Pro Tools and later bouncing down to tape.

Carlton and Osborne completed the album in Osborne’s rented space at Real World, including overdubs and new songs. “We mixed the whole thing in my room on the 24-channel [analog SSL] desk and then mixed down to half-inch,” Osborne says. “We had no automation because [the] SSL had no VCAs, so it was hands-on. I had to mix quite differently [than] if I was using Pro Tools automation. It was a lot of fun.”

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