Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Sara Bareilles, Once Upon Another Time EP

Two years after the release of her third and strongest full-length album, Kaleidoscope Heart, Sara Bareilles has come out with five-song EP Once Upon Another Time.  It was produced by her friend Ben Folds.  The first thing I noticed was that she has been working on her vocals, most evident on the first two tracks: more of a belting-it-out, R&B style.  She certainly has the vocal capacity to pull it off, but that's a direction I did not anticipate.

Of making an EP as her next move, Sara explains to American Songwriter, "I knew I wanted to take some time off between my records and I wanted my fans to have some new music to tide them over.  An EP is especially great because there's less pressure than with a record, so it's a good place to explore and play creatively without feeling like it will define my next career move."  She goes on to say that "I wouldn't say this EP has a very concrete thread running through it.  It's really about picking a collection of songs that I loved."

The title track, which is the opener, is largely a cappella.  Sara notes that it "is really about loss of your childhood and letting go of your past, and that's a part of my life right now, a journey I feel like I'm on.  It felt befitting to name the album that."  "Stay" also showcases her vocals.

"Lie to Me" is a lively track, both in in its instrumentation (including strings) and lyrics:  "Run your mouth/I bet I can catch it/You sound just like a Judas."  Sara says of the song, "I actually write kind of mean lyrics, but usually wrapped up in a sunny song.  For awhile I was having fun with that juxtaposition, but 'Lie to Me' is a bit more direct.  It sounds like what it means.  It's experimentation, finding new ways to express what I was trying to say."

"Sweet As Whole" unleashes her cheeky, foul-mouthed side.  It recalls Cee Lo Green's "F*** You," which Sara loves and sings on tour:  "I wish I wrote that song.  I just think it's so ballsy, and brash, and I absolutely love it.  It's awesome."

"Bright Lights and Cityscapes" is a ballad that is right on par with her best ones such as "City" and "Gravity."  She describes it as "a very emotional performance.  When I listen back to that vocal take, I don't hear my best singing and I get self-conscious about that.  But Ben was adamant about getting a take that had a lot of emotion, and he was right:  I was sitting in the piano room crying while singing, and he's the one who made me keep that on the record."  That was a good move, because this is the Sara that resonates most with me and likely many others as well.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment