Sara Bareilles Charms With New Album 'The Blessed Unrest'
Sara Bareilles has charmed, yet again, with her fourth album The Blessed Unrest. Her familiar bubbly and captivating voice over poppy tunes and slow ballads catches listeners and hooks them in start to finish.
Bareilles is known for challenging what makes a typical pop song popular – she has said that she wrote her hit 'Love Song' when she caught herself trying to figure out how to fit her music to the pattern of pop songs on the radio. She doesn’t trick her listeners with odd synthesizers and empty lyrics; rather, she mixes catchy music with genuine lyrics to tell a story.
The album opens strong with Bareilles’ first single off the album, 'Brave,' which she co-wrote with Jack Antonoff of fun. 'Brave' encourages the listeners to hold their ground and speak up. “Don’t run, stop holding your tongue/Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live/Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/Show me how big your brave is.” What could have easily been a cheesy anthem in a different artist's hands is a fun, dance-worthy, motivational track that makes you want to take on the world.
'Satellite Call,' an ethereal track, feels like a song you would listen to while lying in the grass and staring at the stars. The song speaks to those who feel alone “This is so you know the sound/Someone who loves you from the ground/Tonight you’re not alone at all/This is me sending out my satellite call.” The lyrics are sparse, but the song goes on for nearly five minutes. Some may argue that it’s too much, but given the message of the song, the graceful music and echoing lyrics are exactly what you need to let it all sink in – it by no means goes on too long.
Her next standout is 'Manhattan', a slowed down song with a simple piano and horns that tells the story of leaving the borough to an ex-flame, because it and the memories of them together are too interconnected. Bareilles sings – “You can have Manhattan/The one we used to share/The one where we were laughing/And drunk on just being there.” Through the song, she tells the story of an extraordinary city made all their own, created and defined by their relationship. Though it does edge on a clichéd, magical description of Manhattan, her easy lyrics pull it back.
'Little Black Dress' is reminiscent of her 2010 single 'King of Anything' – falling from a controlling relationship and knowing you deserve better. She prepares to shed herself of the person who made her a puppet and dance on her own. This is the Bareilles we’ve come to know – taking a bad breakup and coming back full-force, writing a song with emotion and a fun beat behind it rather than churning out more shallow breakup pop hits like Taylor Swift.
'I Choose You' is a poppy song of love found. Though the song itself is cute, it feels typical of a pop song on the radio, songs which, as I mentioned earlier, Bareilles tends to challenge in her own work. The lyrics are a bit sappy – “There was a time when I would have believed them/If they told me that you could not come true/Just love's illusion/But then you found me and everything changed/And I believe in something again.” Consequently, this song is one of the weaker tracks on the album.
Overall, I would definitely recommend buying The Blessed Unrest. Like with her previous three studio albums, Bareilles tells stories of bad break-ups, love lost and found, and finding your own voice. She keeps her music fresh enough to keep fans loyal and coming back for more. The songs are beautifully mixed together with her powerful yet controlled voice that keeps you on your toes. And she connects to the lyrics in the way only a true singer/songwriter can, keeping songs that could easily be hollow, full of life.