Shirley Halperin
July 26, 2007 AT 08:29 PM EDT

Though we still get to hear plenty of Vanessa Carlton (pictured) these days — thanks mainly to Zales, the diamond retailer that licensed her 2002 hit “A Thousand Miles” for what seems like eternity — it’s been a while since we’ve seen her in person. But in anticipation of her new album, Heroes and Thieves (out October 9), Carlton came out of hiding, taking the stage at L.A.’s Roxy on Monday night for an intimate performance that showcased some of her new songs and one very special guest. (See who it was, after the jump.)






addCredit(“Vanessa Carlton: Chris Weeks/; Stevie Nicks: Chris Weeks/”)

I’m talking about the legendary Stevie Nicks (one of my top 5 interview subjects of all time), who’s forged a strong friendship in recent years with young Miss Carlton, her opening act in 2005 and 2006. Carlton brought out her mentor and collaborator with an emotional introduction that went on to explain the meaning behind a gorgeous new song called “The One.” It came together, said Carlton, after some lengthy discussions she and Nicks (pictured) had about relationships and the idea of finding that one true love. (It’s unclear whether Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, Carlton’s long-time beau, was the inspiration.) Nicks gave the song high praise, likening its pretty, flowing melodies to those of the Beatles. Though she did apologize to the crowd for having to read the words. “This is the first time I’ve gone on stage with glasses,” she snickered before joining in and kicking the tune’s harmonies into gear.

Sadly, Stevie’s was a one-song-only performance, but Carlton’s other new tunes, including the forthcoming single “Nolita Fairytale,” were also impressive. She’s certainly got a stellar team, most of whom were seated at a back booth in the VIP section — Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls) as producer, The Inc.’s Irv Gotti (Ashanti, Ja Rule) as label-head/A&R guy, Universal Music head Doug Morris as a visible supporter (holding hands with Nicks, whom he signed as a solo artist some 20 years ago) — and a string of successful singles (most recently, 2004’s “White Houses”) to her name. But will Vanessa Carlton be able to reclaim her piano-bench throne on the pop charts? Make your predictions below.

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