Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest - Review

I am a huge Sara Bareilles fan, ever since Little Voice came out. I own all of her recordings and have had the fortune of seeing her in concert three times (completely worth it - she is better live than in the recording studio!). While I've blogged about the concerts, I've never written any album reviews - until now. I like this album so much that after I downloaded the music from iTunes, I went out and bought a physical copy. [For certain artists, I prefer having a physical CD - I can't explain why - perhaps it's my way of supporting music as something physical, not the commodity it has become].

The Blessed Unrest #music @sarabareilles
Plus, it means I get to take a photo of the CD and all the inserts!

The music and production is different from her last two full length albums - there's less outright piano, more electronic touches and a "produced" sound, but as an artist, you have to grow and change, so I respect that. Her lyrics are still as complex /layered as always and the melodies don’t sound like a regurgitation of the same songs / chords you hear on the radio these days.

Even though the album was released in mid July, I started listening to it a week early, thanks to per-release streaming off the iTunes site. With all music, I'm initially drawn to the music and the main chorus "messages". But the beauty of this album lies after the initial listens - with the complex lyrics. Sara's songs paint a complex story - beautiful, yet heart wrenching poems woven through music.

If you don't want to read through my song-by-song analysis of the album, I understand - there are a lot of words here! The Bottom Line - if you like any of Sara's previous music, go buy this record. If you like artists like Ingrid Michaelson or Colbie Caillat, go buy this record.

Song by Song:
Brave - the most "radio friendly" of the album. It does the job with its perky sound, upbeat tempo. The lyrics send a good message. It's not my favorite song on the album, but it will be popular with folks who want to hear top 40 pop. 4/5
Chasing the Sun - I love this song - great lyrics and message (life is too short not to be living it), almost an anthem but a melancholy premise of being in a graveyard 5/5
Hercules - Probably the darkest, moodiest song on the album - Fiona Apple-ish. I like this song more as I listen to it, but my initial ranking was a 3.5/5
Manhattan - The slow ballad, piano driven song about heartbreak with jazzy undertones. Simple and beautiful. 5/5
Satellite Call - Electronica, outer space feel, about sending out a message of love to those lost. The vocals and production are ethereal. Very different from her previous work. 4/5
Little Black Dress - A very catchy tune, with do-whop sounds, like Gonna Get Over You. Very fun song that you can bop to on a Friday night, with your PJs and hairbrush mic. Empowering lyrics like "I am more than just somebody’s puppet, I can find the cord and then I’ll cut it, I stand a pretty good chance to dust myself off and dance" 5/5
Cassiopeia - Another electronic, outer spacy song, with a great chorus full of harmonies. 4.5/5
1000 Times - A song about unrequited love that has a country twang to it! Could be played on country radio for sure - one of those "see you from the other side of the room at the country bar and I want to walk over and meet you" ballads. It has a great melody and the lyrics are heart wrenching "Cause I would die to make you mine, Bleed me dry each and every time, I don't mind, no I don't mind it, I would come back 1000 times." Sigh, don't you remember a time when you could relate? 5/5
I Choose You - Cutesy and sweet. Almost too sweet because most of Sara's songs are about breaking up and leaving. Sounds like something one would play at one's wedding, so at first I didn't really like it, until I really listened to the lyrics - "My whole heart, Will be yours forever, This is a beautiful start, To a lifelong love letter". Such a counterpoint to the previous song. 4/5
Eden - Alt pop sound, a little weird for me. Probably my least favorite song, about becoming disillusioned by your "Eden". 3.5/5
Islands - This is a haunting song, about drifting apart and losing someone, then finally letting go. I can just feel the emotion in it. It is a little produced, but I love the way it sounds. 5/5
December - I always get depressed in December (must be the stress of the Holidays, reflecting upon the past year, getting ready for the new year) and this song really sums up a lot of how I tend to feel. It is also about taking the plunge with change in your life, and how once a decision is made, you can't turn back. It really resonates with me right now. 5/5

Bonus tracks -
I Wanna Be Like Me - (iTunes) I wish I could have previewed this song, because if I had, I wouldn't have purchased my music from iTunes. Over produced pop with synth touches that make her sound like a teen Disney Channel artist. The only redeeming aspect is the song's message that you should be yourself and not someone else. 1/5
Beautiful Girl - (Target) I already own this song and some may be disappointed because it was released last year along with her EP, Once Upon Another Time. It's a lovely song, though, with a positive message for females of all ages. 5/5
Parking Lot - (Target) This should have been on the original record (although I know why it isn't - there's an f-bomb in one of the verses) with it's upbeat tempo. The song is a call to action - to get out of the parking lot that feeds your fears and insecurities.

If you are going to purchase the album, I suggest the Target version with the two bonus tracks. And all of the songs may be sampled at iTunes and Amazon.

Lisa  – (August 7, 2013 at 6:41 PM)  

I need to listen to this one .. so glad you shared this.

Jeanne  – (August 7, 2013 at 10:07 PM)  

GREAT review on this album, and hey, I just bought it. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing

Anonymous –   – (August 7, 2013 at 10:28 PM)  

I purchased it from iTunes last week and LOVE it. I have been a fan of Sara for some time also.

Lisa Gordon  – (August 8, 2013 at 1:52 PM)  

It sounds wonderful, Shirley.
Thank you for sharing it here!

tinajo  – (August 10, 2013 at 2:26 PM)  

Never heard but now you´ve made me curious! :-)

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