Picks and Pans Review: Vanessa Carlton

updated 10/22/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Heroes & Thieves |

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Vanessa Carlton's new album is her first for hip-hop label the Inc. Records, but don't expect her to be spitting it like Lil' Kim—she's still kicking it on the piano. And after suffering a sophomore slump on her last CD, 2004's Harmonium, Heroes finds the singer-songwriter getting her groove back. First single "Nolita Fairytale"—one of nine tracks produced by Carlton's ex, Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins—adds some rhythmic punch to the lush keyboard rush that became her signature with 2002's hit "A Thousand Miles." The song gives lyrical props to Stevie Nicks, who provides textured harmony on the Elton-esque "The One." But it's the sweeping, string-laden title tune that scales highest.

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