This woman. This woman right here is legendary.
And she goes by the name of Sara Bareilles. If you’re a yank, you might have an idea who she is. If you’re my mate, you’re probably aware of her, as there is a 95% chance I have tried to brainwash you into listening to her music at some point. If you’re neither of these things, how about this:
“I’m not gonna write you a love song [insert funky piano breakdown]”
There we go. Sara Bareilles is the lovely lady who enjoyed belting out this classic (TBC) back in 2008. It reached #4 in the UK, and hung around for a fair amount of time so in theory, you have a vague recollection of her.
Anyways, she is amazing. I could get all poetic, whip out my thesaurus and type out as many synonyms as my fingers allow (“or just press Shift + F7” – Bill Gates), but it would all be a bit futile as “amazing” sums her up perfectly. Watch her performances, read her interviews – the woman is a star. Her personality is sparklier than something out of Twilight (never read or seen it, but apparently the vampires sparkle? What’s that about? Joss Whedon needs to have words). She is hilariously witty, has the mouth of a sailor and has taught me swear words I never knew existed. Plus she has the most gorgeous voice, is an exceptionally talented pianist and can write a killer song or 50.
And the reason I fell in love with Ms. Bareilles?
Like a few other million people around the world, I fell for her charms after hearing Love Song. The bouncy piano, the soaring chorus, the fact it was actually kinda bitchy considering it was called Love Song – there wasn’t a lot not to love. There are not a lot of people who break into the mainstream by writing a song about sticking two fingers up to the people trying to convince you to write a song for the mainstream.
I had the album for my 21st birthday (the realisation of this has just knocked me for six and I suddenly feel old) and GASP I wasn’t that impressed. Now, I’m a fussy person though I have got better. If an album didn’t smack me in the face on first listen, I wouldn’t give it a lot of my time. I enjoyed One Sweet Love, Love On The Rocks and Many The Miles and that was about it. I gave it another chance or two but decided to move on with my exciting, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants life and left the CD on my shelf.
That was until summer last year, when my previously mentioned roller coaster lifestyle forced me to take a week off from work. I had nowt else to do bar scratch myself in unsanitary places so decided to revisit a few old albums, Little Voice included.
It clicked. It just clicked. I completely, head-over-heels fell in love. After living with it properly for about 9 months or so, barely a day goes by when I don’t listen to a song from it. On my last.fm it is my most played album of the past year, it regularly provides the soundtrack to my trips back and forth to work, and every song on there has been given five stars on my PC. An accolade shared only by five other albums (Tangled Up, Fever, Spice, Spiceworld and The Fame Monster, if you’re interested).
Now I hate it when people say this about albums, but it’s like she stalked me for a few months and wrote down all my thoughts and feelings, turned them into songs and sold a couple of million copies. Without crediting me. Not on, Bareilles.
But seriously, I identify with every single song on here, and I’ve never had that before with an entire album. I’m more of a vibe person, attaching memories and feelings to songs for bizarre reasons, rarely taking the meaning literally. But this time, I didn’t have to do that, as she crawled into my head and read my filthy, perverted mind. We are the same person. The fact I’ve never been seen in the same room as her supports this theory.
There’s two pretty clear themes with the album – being a bit lost and confused about what you want to do with your life, and wanting something/somebody you can’t have. That’s a pretty big generalisation obviously, but that covers a fair bit of it nicely.
Vegas is a mood, understated, bluesy midtempo about not knowing if the grass is greener on the other side. Everybody is telling you Option A is better, than Option B, but then your neighbour offers up Option C, and don’t even get me started on D and E. And that’s what this song is about. Starting off as a meandering soundtrack to your own confusion, it builds up and up until you just want to scream out “Next stop – VEGAS PLEASE”.
Between The Lines is a delicate ode to wanting something you can’t have. We’ve all been there. A beautiful melody, perfectly capturing that feeling of being left in a corner, watching everything happen in front of you while you sit there helplessly. “You and me, always between the lines.”
Love On The Rocks is the funkiest track on the album, and when I finally get to see her live, I will demand she performs this. I will most likely rush the stage if she doesn’t – that’s fair warning for you, Sara. A cheeky little track about being with somebody who’s just not really much good for you, the uplifting chorus always gets you bopping your head. It’s melancholic, but witty and when it comes to that final chorus, you just get lost in it. “If this bottle could talk….LOVE ON THE ROCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS”. Ahem.
Many The Miles is the most restrained frustrated song I’ve heard in a long time. Almost as funky as Love On The Rocks, you can feel the passion burning up inside her, wondering when she’s gonna get to where she’s aiming for. The breakdown towards the end was built for a crowd sing-along and as her tour DVD shows, it does the job pretty well. “How far do I have to go to get to you, many the miles”.
The rest of the tracks are equally brilliant but I won’t bore you anymore as I’ve gone on quite a bit now. However, I will mention one more.
The simply stunning, Gravity. It’s hard to believe I left this song on the CD, not being listened to, for over two years. Just like the album, it’s become one of my most played songs, never being able to skip it whenever it comes on shuffle. Serving as the epic closing track, it is nothing short of breathtaking, and sums up a lot of the feelings on the album. The song is about trying to break free of somebody, dreaming of the day when you’re not under their spell, when they don’t have that effect on you. The fragile piano, the angelic vocals and the poetic lyrics make up one of my favourite songs. Ever. I try to think of a song I want to listen to more than this, and none come to mind. If I were to choose one song that I could have written, it would be this.
And while listening to this song, and writing about it, I receive a text that reminds me why it means so much to me. And why I almost wish I didn’t.
So that’s that. I will recommend this album to anybody willing to pay attention to me. It’s smart, uplifting, enthralling, magical, beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. She is ridiculously talented and I’m so glad I have this album in my life.
Plus she was in 30 Rock. Amazing.