In an age of the Lady Gaga’s and Katy Perry’s, it should prove challenging to keep artists like Sara Bareilles or anyone else interesting. But perhaps being different has always been the key to an artist’s breakthrough. Different yet believable that is, which Simon Cowell has preached at every American Idol season. And that is what Bareilles has done on her second studio album, Kaleidoscope Heart. Unpretentious songs that are an easy listen but never boring. They strike a balance between radio friendly and unabatedly Sara.
‘King of Anything’, the new single is as bold as Bareilles’s Grammy-nominated hit, ‘Love Song’. To turn things up, a horn section is built in for a big band vibe. And ‘Gonna Get Over You’ is shoulder-shrugging catchy, playing call-and-response which is often heard throughout Kaleidoscope Heart. Piano ballads, Bareilles’s forte is never obscure on this album. Tracks like ‘The Light’, ‘Hold My Heart’ and ‘Breathe Again’ remind us why Bareilles - though hardly ever donning out of this world costumes and broadcasting sneaky remarks for the public eye - is worth listening to. ‘Basket Case’ stands out, calling to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’ which Bareilles has covered on stage previously.
Bareilles fits perfectly into the singing-songwriting league that artists like Fiona Apple and Eva Cassidy have retired from. She continues to possess a voice that gets under your skin just by the sound of it alone. The story telling is just an added bonus. While hip-hop newbies and rock/pop and country tweens are topping the charts, Bareilles seems to be letting success rain on her terms. To quote the opening track, she sings, “Everybody has to get their hands on gold/And I want uncharted.”
- Sandy Tan Chiaw Huei