Review Summary: A tremendous slab of piano driven music, sporting many infleunces that always sound fresh. My pick for pop album of the year.
There is no question about it, Sara Bareilles and her fourth release “Little Voice” slipped under the pop radar of 2007. I’m really baffled as to why this is so, you would think that the music community would embrace a female pop musician that was not obsessed with their image, with open arms. Despite the obvious comparisons with Norah Jones, Sara Bareilles finds her own sound with this release. And it is such a good sound for pop music that you may think that you have heard it before.
You may recognize Sara Bareilles from the recent Rhapsody commercial in which she is playing her single “Love Song” in the living room of a young man’s house. However, if you were to only judge Sara Bareilles on this one commercial, you would be making a big mistake thinking that this album is like every other pop album released in the past five years. The truth is that this album is quite varied, but just varied enough to still be considered a pop album. The swinging upright bass playing in the cut “Vegas”, and the quick, forceful acoustic guitar in “One Sweet Love”, show folk and jazz influences respectively. Actually, “Vegas” is the track that most people would associate with Norah Jones, but after listening to the song, you will agree with that the track is still distinctively Sara Bareilles. “One Sweet Love” has surprisingly well written lyrics, the start of the song hears the words “Just about the time the shadows called/I undressed my mind and dared you to follow/Paint a portrait of my mystery”, it may not be Dylan, but it doesn’t have to be. These are well constructed lyrics that actually hold pop similarities, which in the end, make an interesting contrast to many other pop artists who will often write sub par lyrics, in exchange for a catchy hook.
However, make no mistake about it; there are plenty of hooks on this release. The lead single “Love Song” is undoubtedly one of the catchiest songs of the year, from the bouncing piano riff in the beginning, to the abrupt chorus, the vocal melodies stand out all across the board. “Bottle It Up” holds the same catchy similarities, with a somewhat funky vocal groove, and the swinging upright bass and drum rhythms, which all around; make the song quite unique, and a definite highlight.
The rest of the album simply flows together nicely. With tracks such as “Morningside” sporting heaps of attitude, tender piano ballads such as “Between The Lines”, and the impressive soul singing influences on “Come Round Soon”. Perhaps the biggest selling point of the album is that every track offers something different, no two tracks are completely alike. Furthermore, while the lead single is a prominent part of the album, Sara Bareilles does not solely live off it, taking her jazz, folk, and soul experimentations to plenty of other tracks on the album. Without a doubt, this is one of the most varied pop albums of the year.
So, in conclusion, why is this album so likeable? Well, besides the actual music, it’s quite obvious that Sara Bareilles is likeable. She isn’t the huge pop star that no one can identify with. She’s akin to the girl around the corner from you, whom you always knew played music, now trying to make it big, there’s an underdog kind of factor with this release. Without a doubt, she has created what is probably the most varied pop album of the year, show incredible vocal prowess, and written excellent songs. Yes, Sara Bareilles has finally made her mark on the music scene, and “Little Voice” is my personal pick for the pop album of the year in 2007.