Music Review: What's Inside by Sara Bareilles
I normally do a month worth of music reviews at one time. There have been some awesome albums that I have familiarized myself with throughout the past couple months. A couple in the discussion for Top 5 or Top 10 of the year. But only one has blown me away so much that I wanted to write a review mid-month — What's Inside: Songs from Waitress.
Sara Bareilles is one of my guilty music listening pleasures. My wife probably likes her musically more than I do. My interest in her increased earlier this year when I strumbled across a couple of her live albums and performances. She is funny and has the mouth of a sailor. As I saw new singles being released, I grew moderately concerned that I just was not getting purpose and feel of the songs.
Backdrop, Bareilles was asked to write the music to a broadway presentation of the movie Waitress. I have no idea what the movie is about. I have never seen it and I don't have any plans on doing so. Bareilles decided she wanted (perhaps needed) to sing and record some of these songs that she had spent so much time on. How they will sound on broadway remains to be seen. But Bareilles' release times perfectly with my increased appreciation for broadway music. Knowing this, I dove into the album eagerly last Friday.
The open "What's Inside" sets up a themed "sugar, butter, flour" refrain that appears a couple times on the CD. It probably will appear a time or two more on the stage version. It is a nice rising-curtain experience to a predictable driving "Opening Up." The song is not bad. It is actually quite good, but it is pretty typical of Bareilles. Much of that changes in "Door Number Three" when the piano takes a driving role in the percussion department. The syncopated piano playing along with her melody pattern makes for a ridiculous hook of a verse. Make the verse addictive and you've got me. The lyrics are quite good, but they lack a teasing and more comical nature that I appreciate in other songs like "When He Sees Me" or "Bad Idea."
Both of the aforementioned tracks are addictive. There is a balance of cute, funny, and serious wrapped up in well-mapped songs with catchy hooks. The chorus of "When He Sees Me" is a sweeping, immediately echoing in your head track. The seriousness of the track's plight is not outdone by references to Oreos and color blindness. "Bad Idea" is in a similar boat with the added perspective of being a duet with Jason Mraz (yuck).
But against the backdrop of these songs, even Mraz participates in a way that makes me hate him less. "You Matter To Me" might, in fact, be the best song on the album. A beautiful duet with some impressive vocal and string arrangements. It's seriousness coupled with "She Used To Be Mine" close out the album in a delightful way. Add the middling "Soft Place To Land," and they help balance the funnier "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me" and "Bad Idea."
Bareilles has written a great pop-opera (is that a term?). At all times, it remains undeniably her and her style. At other points, it is clear she wrote broadway for broadway. This album will be in my Top 5. Currently, it is even pushing for the top spot.