Sara Bareilles | The Blessed Unrest (Epic)

The-Blessed-Unrest 75If you listen to it once, it’s memorable enough that you will return to it eventually, exiting with more emotions and thoughts than you entered with.

I’ve recently come to notice something about album singles. When artists release a song from a new album, they seem to approach selection the way one would approach meeting someone for the first time. They’re upbeat and snazzy enough to leave an impression, but never anything too deep. (Consider Lady Gaga’s and Katy Perry’s recent releases). Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave” is just that. It’s a fun song, and it’s great for two reasons; it is inspirational and applicable to a slew of life’s challenges. It is upbeat, thus memorable.

“Brave” foreshadows Bareilles’ thoughtful approach to the rest of the album, The Blessed Unrest. In my opinion, not all singers are “artists,” as the music industry tends to label them; however, Bareilles very much is. Her lyrics are full of literary elements including metaphor, as in “Chasing the Sun,” and personification, as in “Casseopia.” It is apparent that not only is she a knowledge-seeker, but also someone who reflects and analyzes her decisions in great detail, as well sees great meaning behind the elements and facets of life she regularly encounters.

For example, one of my favorite songs on this album is “Chasing the Sun.” As I said, this is a metaphor-filled track with incredible imagery. The song opens with her description of a cemetery:

“It’s a really old city

Stuck between the dead and the living

So I thought to myself, sitting on a graveyard shelf

As the echo of heartbeats, from the ground below my feet

Filled a cemetery in the center of Queens”

In her track-by-track commentary for the album (also a must-listen), she says that this song was inspired by an email she received from a friend who had recently taken a run through a cemetery in Queens. I think Bareilles really contemplates what life is all about, unafraid to examine its intricacies.

Throughout the album, I was struck more by the lyrics than the music, but one exception to that was “Manhattan.” “Manhattan” is one of many love-themed songs on the album, nearly all of them melancholy interpretations of the subject. “Manhattan” is Nicholas-Sparks-book-sad. It’s just a rough listen, but a must-listen as well. It moves very slowly, and reminds me almost of a solemn Christmas song. When I hear this song, in my mind it is immediately winter, and it’s snowing. It’s a song about having to leave someone behind, although the lyrics “you can have Manhattan because I can’t have you,” suggest that departure is an extremely heavy-hearted one. What I love about this song — and one of the many reasons I hope it gets some radio time — is that it has a beauty and intimacy that the love songs of the current pop world lack. Bareilles may be too private to name names in her ballads like Taylor Swift, but Bareilles’ lyrics are so much deeper and more meaningful. They’re the lyrics of someone who has truly been in love and has felt the almost indescribable pain of losing that someone. And that is what makes Bareilles a star — she is able to give words and images to the indescribable without relying on contrived clichés or a large amount of repetition.

For some, the overall melancholy feel of this album will be its greatest downfall. It’s not music that I could listen to all the time. But if you listen to it once, it’s memorable enough that you will return to it eventually, exiting with more emotions and thoughts than you entered with. B+ | Megan Washausen

Standout Tracks — Chasing the Sun, Manhattan, Little Black Dress, Islands

R.I.Y.L. — Ingrid Michaelson, Christina Perri

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