In the age of auto-tune princesses like Lady GaGa and Ke$ha, Sara Bareilles is proof that real musicians still exist.
I started listening to her when I was a senior in college, during the Careful Confessions era, well before the ironically-named “Love Song” was even released. My roommate had gone to a Marc Broussard (who later opened up for her on the Little Voice tour) concert where she was the opening act. He brought her CD back to the apartment and I was hooked. Fortunately, songs from that album like “City,” “Gravity,” and “Fairytale” eventually made onto what is now referred to as her debut, Little Voice. By the way Sara, we’re still waiting on “Red” to get that same treatment.
I’ve been a fan ever since and have been to two of her shows, one of which was on the Hotel Cafe tour with Ingrid Michaelson and Joshua Radin. As per usual when it comes to musicians or bands like her, I bought her latest album Kaleidoscope Heart before listening to hardly any more than the first single, “King of Anything,” a song I immediately loved. And as per usual, my blind faith was rewarded.
For those expecting an album chock full of upbeat, stick-it-to-the-man anthems like “Love Song,” you may be slightly disappointed. While songs like “Uncharted” and “King of Anything” make you want to dance like no one is watching, a large portion of the album is somewhat mellow and soulful.
The album opens with the virtually acapella title track, “Kaleidoscope Heart,” which is basically a short intro to the album itself. The harmonies are rich and beautiful, but who would expect anything less? The title track is followed by “Uncharted,” an upbeat song that makes a lyrical reference to the album’s title. I expect this one to be a single at some point, following the success of “King of Anything.”
The slower ones like “Hold my Heart,” “The Light,” “Basket Case,” and “Breathe Again” have a raw and powerfully emotional force. “Not Alone” is bluesy, soulful track reminds me of her Careful Confessions days. But it is songs like “Gonna Get Over You,” “Machine Gun,” and “Say You’re Sorry” that reinforce my theory that Sara Bareilles is this generation’s female Billy Joel.
Diversity of style and quality of songwriting are the two major strengths that Bareilles has demonstrated throughout her career. Kaleidoscope Heart is certainly no exception. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a solid 9.