So who immediately boarded the Sara Bareilles train upon hearing her first single Love Song from Little Voice? Well, I did. Not to forget, the song itself was released in 2007, where most artists had the peak of their careers formulated, and not saying that Sara did peak, but it was a defining moment for her when she managed to reach success for not just the single but the album as well, growing to 4 times platinum for Love Song alone. 2 years later, success continued when Bareilles released Kaleidoscope Heart and this time, I was there to see it all come to fruition with lead single King Of Anything propelling her to even higher heights and the album itself even debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 despite low sales of 90,000 in it's first week. Bareilles is a songwriter in a league of her own, and to be nominated for album of the year for a Grammy, is a huge achievement. However, is The Blessed Unrest that big of a deal?
Yes, you got me right. When it comes to songwriting, most female peers fall terribly short at what Bareilles has been able to produce in her songs until now. With the accompanying piano to serve as her production core, Bareilles is able to craft and engineer at heart and doesn't feel restricted to mostly any pre-requisite (which is perhaps why Love Song was created due to her record label). This is showcased in all her albums such as Careful Confessions and an EP released last year titled Once Upon Another Time (which is a great EP by her standards), and if you feel that isn't her forte, you should know by now. Other than the particular songwriting in which I took note of while delving into this album for the first time, is probably some of the subject matter in which Bareilles usually has to talk about, and there a couple but not that much out of the border.
Brave kick starts the album and is also the lead single (and only so far) for The Blessed Unrest. There was a big consensus for me to pick Brave over Katy Perry's Roar basically for a few reasons. Firstly, Bareilles's Brave doesn't feel remotely cringe-worthy when compared to Roar, which has multiple thrown-in lines and phrases that seems to exaggerate rather than being subtle. Secondly, the delivery is more voracious compared Roar, and this could possibly be seen when Katy tries too hard to make the song standout while Bareilles does more with very little. Thus, Brave emerges winner despite falling very far behind Perry when charting, obviously due to Perry being more well-known compared to Bareilles. However, Brave's subject doesn't really counter-part with what the rest of the album really is, which is quite a headache to describe.
I'm just going to point out the negatives of the album in one simple word: inconsistent. It's a very vital plague that happens throughout the album and can be heard very clearly. It's a solid album individually, but the tracks don't seem to have an appalling affect compared to Brave on it's own or Manhattan, due to stacking it beside the strong heartened Hercules before a space-vibe tender song of Satellite Call that reminded me of Panic! At The Disco's Casual Affair (I'm not lying. Panic!'s was much more loud and gripping). Like I said, the album is solid, but some tracks don't really feel all that accomplished nor feel as though Bareilles has enough put into it. I understand their piano ballads, or at least use the piano as a core instrument but my only dislike was probably Islands. I didn't really enjoy what Bareilles was putting out on the track. The lyrics were very thorough, and effective but the sometimes lackluster vocal output doesn't necessarily offset the powerful points of the track. The next track that comes close would be Eden, which didn't feel had to be on the album and would still carry on well without it.
Be reminded The Blessed Unrest carries a much more darker tone than what Kaleidoscope Heart itself offers. It's not necessarily bad, but the more upbeat tones songs aren't really visible other than the couple of maybe Brave, Chasing The Sun and Hercules. In fact, other than Eden and Islands, with a wrought and rising chorus, the rest of the album is just fantastic and amazing. You may say that I'm biased, but you have to really understand and listen to the album at least more than twice to really get indulged into it. The Blessed Unrest evokes the special tension once you start to understand the power and the emotions carried by the tracks, and that's what makes ballads like Manhattan and December so amazingly thought out; that's what makes Little Black Dress so 'out there'; that's what also makes 1000 Times and Cassiopeia hit where it should. Even I Choose You is so much better than what you would call a pop love song with a chorus that surpasses the highest-tier of standards in the music industry. Make no mistake that Bareilles isn't the best singer of the decade, but she makes use of her vocal range extremely well that it considers production and lyrics beforehand, and this makes her such a good songwriter.
There is lastly, also the sense that Bareilles speaks her mind without having tied down to a certain fixed chorus or a designated production so as to streamline her work. There is none of this on the record. While it may seem though when you first start off the album, but it quickly diminishes by the fifth of sixth track. The album is that good.
8.5/10: The Blessed Unrest deserves it's Grammy nomination no doubt, and for those who have yet to know of Bareilles, you should by now. With such sense-provoking lyrics and heartening production to accompany with the core notes on the piano, she could hardly go wrong. With Kaleidoscope Heart, Bareilles definitely has scored yet another great album. A step back maybe, but she is still in the right direction for sure. I strongly recommend this album to your family, friends and whatnot. Also, merry Christmas!
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.