“It’s been a really introspective year for me. A lot of heartbreak and heartache, but I feel a lot of expansion,” said singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles in a recent radio interview with New York’s 95.5 WPLJ. It just takes one listen to her latest record, The Blessed Unrest, to hear the truth of that statement; it’s a raw and deeply personal album that sits with — and reflects upon — loss, love, and courage.
A native Californian, Bareilles rose to fame in 2007 with the release of her single “Love Song,” which hit number one on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. Since then, the piano-pounding musician has garnered three Grammy nominations and amassed a devoted fan base with her pop sensibilities and stunning vocal range.
With Unrest, Bareilles explores new territory both lyrically and sonically. “For awhile there I got really excited about the juxtaposition of saying something that was really sort of dark and sassy and pointed,” Bareilles told Billboard magazine. “Like ‘Love Song’ or [her other hit single] ‘King of Anything’ they are basically telling someone off, but you wrap it up in a sunny sounding song. That to me was interesting, and I was playing a lot with that [on previous records]. More recently I’ve gotten a little more direct.”
This straightforward approach sees Bareilles creating some of her most dynamic work to date. Rather than vesting things in a crisp pop package, tracks on Unrest bring several styles to the table. “Satellite Call” is vocally layered and ethereal; “Brave”, cowritten with fun.’s Jack Antonoff, uses a synth-based drum beat as its anchor; and “Hercules” mixes elements of electronica and staccato piano to great effect.
Despite the various up-tempo tracks, Unrest is wrapped in melancholy that speaks to the tumult in the singer’s life recently. In the past year, Bareilles separated from her longtime boyfriend, moved from L.A. to New York City, and split with her band, who has been with her since the beginning of her career. For fans, the result of the upheaval will be on display when Bareilles takes the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl this week, co-headlining with OneRepublic.
411: Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic at the Santa Barbara Bowl this Tuesday, September 10 at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com