Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles had a breakthrough in 2007 with her smash-hit single Love Song. Peaking in the Top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic, the single catapulted her album Little Voice into the Top 10 and it has sold over one million copies in the US alone. 2010 saw Bareilles follow up that album with Kaleidoscope Heart which topped the Billboard 200 but fell short of its predecessor’s sales. Last year Bareilles released her latest album The Blessed Unrest which is finally getting a UK release almost a year later.
The Blessed Unrest has enjoyed moderate success so far in the US thanks to lead single Brave which has been used in a Microsoft commercial and has given Bareilles her biggest hit since Love Song. The uptempo pop number has been adopted as an anthem by many for its inspirational lyrics and rousing chorus. Brave takes Bareilles into slightly poppier territory than we’ve heard previously but the tinkling of a piano can still be heard clearly in the mix.
Anyone expecting that a poppier sound is the agenda for The Blessed Unrest will be surprised. It’s one of the only commercial-sounding tracks on the record with much of the album harking back to the singer-songwriter sound of her previous records. Second track Chasing The Sun takes you straight to Bareilles’ comfort zone combining hopeful lyrics with a mid-tempo melody.
Elsewhere on the record Bareilles does what she does best with easily relatable lyrics and pleasant melodies. The plinky-plonky I Choose You is sure to be adopted by lovers the world over, Manhattan keeps it simple allowing Bareilles to deliver a lazy jazz sound, and Satellite Calls is reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan classic I Love You due to its vocal effects.
There are a couple of moments on the record that hint at what the album could have been. Little Black Dress combines a beat and horn section for one of the more uptempo and almost Motown-ish moment whilst Eden, easily the album’s standout track, borrows Prince’s vocal harmonies for its verse before giving way to Bareilles’ signature sound.
The Blessed Unrest is an enjoyable listen but it’s missing those real stand-out moments that earned Bareilles’ previous two records a spot on our repeat-listen playlists. Her musicianship shines through on the record but we wish she had taken a few more risks and explored her poppier sound for a change. Brave hinted at a progression in sound which sadly isn’t quite delivered.