"I wanted it to sonically feel like a woman's mind."
Credit: Eddie Chacon

Vanessa Carlton’s already released a lauded EP this summer, but next week’s debut of her fifth full-length, Liberman, will make 2015 one of her most productive years yet. Streaming below for the first time, Liberman finds Carlton looking back — and she does so over a gorgeous mess of synths and reverb-drenched acoustics. “We really wanted to spiral it out, to have it feel like a dream,” she tells EW.

The sound was inspired by wall art that hangs near Carlton’s piano at home. “There’s this painting — my grandfather was a painter — that my grandmother gave me of his when he passed,” she says. “It has all these amazing bright pastels colors and it occurred to me that every time I wrote for the upcoming record, I was looking at this painting. That’s where those lush feelings of melodies wrapping around you come from, that’s what that painting feels like to me.”

Thematically, Liberman is happily contemplative. “I know I’m not that old,” the 34-year-old singer says. “But there are times where I feel so ancient in such a relieving way; I’ve finally gone through enough of a chunk of time to begin reflection.” That recent chunk of time has been punctuated by big changes. Carlton relocated from New York City to Nashville. She married Deer Tick frontman John McCauley in a ceremony officiated by Stevie Nicks. She suffered a miscarriage during her last tour, got pregnant again, and 10 months ago, she gave birth to a baby girl.

Her voice, too, shows signs of maturing from her “A Thousand Miles” days. She sings about begging a lover to hold her heart safely (“Willows”), commands a man-eating persona who would lure a younger man away from his family (“Operator”), ruminates with compelling detachment on wounds from an old break-up (“Nothing Where Something Used To Be”), and speaks to her younger self about finding her own way (“House Of Seven Swords”).

“I wanted it sonically to feel like a woman’s mind,” she says. “Like in ‘Blue Pool,'” which is also the title track on her recent EP, “the lyric is based on The Secret Garden, equating that to a woman’s mind and then the chorus is the feeling of the feminine, opening the door to the woman’s mind. It’s totally dreamy.”

Stream Liberman in full below.

Liberman is out Oct. 23 via Dine Alone Records.