Single Review: Vanessa Carlton “Pretty Baby”

Pretty Baby
Album: Be Not Nobody
Year: 2002

Vanessa Carlton gushes over her boyfriend in the graceful ballad “Pretty Baby”.

Snaps, an acoustic guitar and faint drums accompany Carlton as she remembers the butterflies she gets when she sees him. When they are embracing, she continually wants him near her. She’s uninhibited around him (“You light me up and then I fall for you/ You lay me down and then I call for you/Stumbling on reasons that are far and few/I’d let it all come down and then some for you”).

She tells her sweetheart not to break up with her. She keeps some of her happiness for him. She promises to be able to comfort him. He’s what she looks forward to when she’s having a terrible day. She’ll be able to live peacefully with the assurance of him in her life. (“Pretty baby don’t you leave me/I have been saving smiles for you/Pretty baby why can’t you see/You’re the one that I belong to/I’ll be the embrace that keeps you warm/For you’re the sun that breaks the storm/I’ll be alright and I’ll sleep sound/As long as you keep comin’ around, oh pretty baby”).

She’s not naive. She realizes the relationship could end tomorrow. But she’s willing to take that risk. Remebering the cologne upon her clothes causes her to miss him. She’s mystified as to how one person could change another for the positive. (“And I know things can’t last forever/But there are lessons that you’ll never learn/Oh just the scent of you it makes me hurt/So how’s it you that makes me better”).

In the bridge, she asks him to continue holding her for one minute longer. He is able to control her with a brush of his hand upon hers. She’s in love with him but wonders if it would end eventually. (“Why can’t you hold me and never let go/When you touch me it is me that you own/Pretty baby oh the place that you hold in my heart/Would you break it apart again… oh pretty baby”). The strings swell beautifully in the section as Carlton reaches a high note.

After the chorus, there’s a sentimental instrumental section with a pensive piano and overzealous strings. However, it lasts for about a half minute. Long enough for it to be really cheesy but not memorable.

She adlibs the chorus until the single fades out. (“Pretty baby, why can’t you see….pretty baby/don’t you leave me”).

Carlton’s childlike voice provides a romantic, loving quality to the single. It’s a first love and something she won’t forget in her life. The strings, a necessary addition to any love song, do not make themselves a nuisance. They heard in the background but are not overwhelming. The strings ultimately give the single its lush, idyllic tone which matches perfectly with Carlton’s vocals.

“Pretty Baby” captures love at its most tender moments.


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