Sara Bareilles’ songs don’t live up to her voice: CD review
Sara Bareilles seems to be spinning her wheels on her fourth album, The Blessed Unrest.
By: Nick Krewen Music, Published on Tue Jul 16 2013
Overwrought and overproduced at times, Sara Bareilles seems to be spinning her wheels on her fourth album, The Blessed Unrest.
Although the Eureka, Calif., singer-songwriter’s rich, fluid alto is the connecting thread between the dozen songs on her first album in three years, The Blessed Unrest vacillates between absolute brilliance and so-so mediocrity, with the latter winning out more often.
Sometimes Bareilles — a former judge on The Voice — comes across as an inferior version of Sarah McLachlan, with a song like “December” sounding like an outtake from McLachlan’s Afterglow period, only more insular.
What works best is when she goes the more direct route: “Little Back Dress” is a fun, lighthearted foray into escapism that is stellar pop, projecting a slight ’60s feel with accented horns and a simple, appealing melody. The relationship between melody and an in-sync arrangement also yields positive vibes on “I Choose You,” also light and airy.
But when she gets deeper and more complex, the arrangements become a tad convoluted to the detriment of the song, such as “Chasing the Sun” and “Hercules.”
Not as appealing as 2010’s Kaleidoscope Heart, Bareilles needs to break it down to the basics in order to distinguish herself from the slew of piano-playing, confessional singer-songwriters like Regina Spektor, Rachael Yamagata and others of the same ilk.
DOWNLOAD: “Eden” offers some great build, momentum and a novel enough harmonized vocal lead on the verses to sustain interest, while “Satellite Call” has a catchy wordless hook that is both haunting and beautiful, though the rest of this ballad’s arrangement pales in comparison.