NOW WHAT KIND OF NUMBER 1 FAN WOULD I BE WITHOUT WRITING A REVIEW THE DAY THE CD DROPPED? A shitty one, and obviously that is not true since Sara and I are best friends. So.
The Blessed Unrest is Bareilles’ 3rd major record label full-length offering. Following up 2010’s Kaleidoscope Heart, this album again pulls further away from 2007’s Little Voice in both size and scope. Boasting longer songs, broader themes, and more eclectic musical choices than the other two combined, the album finds itself in new territory. After the short EP Once Upon A Time dropped in 2012, with elements of all of Sara’s past work intertwined with some new ideas, I was curious to see what direction the new album would take. So what was the outcome?
Though the album starts similarly with the normal piano pop (Brave) we are used to hearing, the real gems start to come after and towards the middle of the album. Bareilles plays with multiple music forms here - from the heavily synthesized Satellite Call and Cassiopeia to the doo-wop-y Little Black Dress. Remnants of her tried and true ballads also remain (Manhattan), and are by far some of the best songs on the album. Through it all, one thing stays true - the vocals are powerful, gut-wrenching, and emotional.
However, there are some musical decisions that I’m sure will not sit well with everyone - and personally I have a few critiques of my own (LOVE ME SARA I’M SORRY). At times, the new direction seems too forced and akin to some themes that no longer feel like her own. Eden feels a bit too 80’s for me, and Satellite Call is a bit too, pardon the pun, out of this world. Even those I enjoyed, like I Choose You, seemed pulled out of another person’s set list (see Colbie Caillat’s I Do, though Sara does it better). To be fair, there were also some wonderful surprises - Chasing the Sun, with its heavy bass and beat, and 1000 Times’ lyrical depth by far lead the pack for some of the newer experimental favorites that Bareilles has conjured up and still feel like the artist we met in 2007.
The summary: the CD itself is one that I would listen to over and over, but it’s not one I can listen to in one sitting without skipping songs. It’ll take time for me to digest the new direction. To be honest, this was how I felt when I first heard Kaleidoscope Heart, and now it is one of my favorite albums. Go buy the album, and let the new vibes sink in before you make all of your final decisions everyone!
Edit: There are multiple bonus tracks that if you don’t know about you should check out:
Exclusive from Target:
1. Beautiful Girl
2. Parking Lot
Exclusive from Gumroad:
1. Root Down