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Pop - Released April 5, 2019 | Epic

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There may be no other title that captures the feeling of living in the late 2010s than Amidst the Chaos, the name Sara Bareilles gave her sixth album. Appropriately, Amidst the Chaos feels as if it was born from the turmoil left in the wake of the 2016 election, wearing its scars proudly even as it hesitatingly offers glimmers of hope. Bareilles doesn't address politics directly, preferring to rhapsodize about the Obama era in the guise of love songs and donning metaphorical armor to combat the age of Trump, and such skilled obliqueness -- where the audience recognizes what's being said, even if the themes are never spoken out loud -- are a reflection of how Bareilles has sharpened her songwriting by writing tunes for the stage during the bulk of the 2010s. There are hints of theatricality on Amidst the Chaos, particularly when the tempo quickens, but Bareilles opted to cut the album with T-Bone Burnett, a producer who specializes in analog impressionism. Burnett's predilection for foggy, atmospheric audio stands in stark contrast to the crisp, bright productions of Bareilles' earlier records, a shift that's more startling than the singer/songwriter's decision to tackle socio-political topics, yet his deliberately arty setting emphasizes Bareilles' versatility. Much of the album is moody and contemplative, a tone that suits Burnett's atmospheric touch, yet this also makes the handful of pop tunes -- "If I Can't Have You," which nearly glides by in its effervescence and the rolling "Orpheus" -- seem all the more vivid, while also setting the gospel undertones of "Saint Honesty" and the steeliness of "Eyes on You" in an effective, welcome contrast. Such distinctions are subtle but notable, and Amidst the Chaos invites the kind of close listening that helps draw out these differences: its surfaces are elusive and inviting, and its core is deep and nuanced, a combination that results in a rich, rewarding experience that shifts slightly with each return visit. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released July 3, 2007 | Epic

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For her first major outing, Little Voice, Sara Bareilles puts forth an intimate, emotionally charged album that sounds remarkably polished for a fledgling self-taught songwriter/performer. In fact, her voice even stands up to professionally trained pop divas like Christina Aguilera. Her only potential downfall is that she fits so perfectly in the adult contemporary female pianist mold that comparisons are inevitable -- Bareilles' vocal range is similar to Fiona Apple and she bears a striking physical resemblance to a merged composite of Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch. Despite the plethora of comparable looking and sounding artists, she still manages to stand out. The songs are sultry and generally upbeat, and delivered in a soulful manner with polished production and arrangement, but her X factor is in her ability to make it all sound unforced and very, very easy. Unquestionably, she's a natural with a huge voice and personality that shine through with spirited energy here. Perhaps the best and most original track is the ultra-peppy (think "Benny and the Jets") "Love on the Rocks" (not to be confused with the Neil Diamond number). With a warm wah-wah guitar and meandering Motown-esque harmonies, it makes for a perfect summertime love song. Undoubtedly her expertise is writing love songs like this, evident by song titles like "Love Song" and "One Sweet Love," but there are enough uniquely spun takes on the subject to make it interesting. In "Fairytale," children's stories are used as a metaphor for escapism and dealing with depression, and with the moody ballad "Gravity," falling in love is compared to getting caught in an inescapable gravitational pull. In the latter tearjerker of a tune, she shows off her chops with a song-stopping vocal crescendo, further proving that she has a style that's something special, even among all the stiff competition. ~ Jason Lymangrover
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Pop - Released October 22, 2013 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released July 16, 2013 | Epic

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The Blessed Unrest is the flip side of Kaleidoscope Heart, the 2010 album that presaged Sara Bareilles' move into the mainstream, giving the singer/songwriter her first number one album and opening the door for a gig on network television hosting the competition The Sing-Off. Kaleidoscope Heart was bright and almost baroque, its arrangements lush and large, the kind of record that seems hazily triumphant -- which it was, to the extent that it was following her breakthrough hit "Love Song," the kind of single that could've pegged her as a one-hit wonder along the lines of Vanessa Carlton. Bareilles escaped that fate, as that spot on The Sing-Off illustrates, but The Blessed Unrest doesn't quite feel like a record written in the wake of such success. It's moody and textured, rolling out at a deliberate pace and colored in blues and greys, skillfully skirting the edges of alienation -- for as much as Bareilles can occasionally suggest early Fiona Apple, as she does once again on "Hercules," there is no chance she'll chuck it all in and deliver a piano-and-drums excursion into the avant-garde -- by asking listeners to lean in so they can absorb all the details. There are moments of levity here, such as the effervescent "Little Black Dress" and the subtly synthesized rhythms on "Eden," but they're here to provide necessary texture and relief, puncturing the cool nocturnal glow of The Blessed Unrest just enough so the album opens up and doesn't feel mopey. Then again, Bareilles is such a naturally melodic songwriter that she doesn't run much of a risk of seeming insular on The Blessed Unrest and, fortunately, the feel of the album follows the contours of her melodies, so its melancholy is warm and inviting. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 6, 2015 | Epic

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Of all the pop singer/songwriters who surfaced in the 21st century, Sara Bareilles may be uniquely qualified to write the songs for a Broadway musical. Indebted to tradition without being beholden to it, Bareilles always favors songs so exquisitely sculpted that their craft is never noticed, only felt, so she's a natural fit for Diane Paulus' adaptation of Adrienne Shelly's 2007 indie comedy-drama Waitress. What's Inside: Songs from Waitress isn't a cast album, it's Bareilles' recording of 12 songs from the production, and the highest compliment that can be paid is that it simultaneously plays as drama and as a sequel to her Grammy-nominated 2013 album The Blessed Unrest. Bright and open, What's Inside does feel of a piece with her 2010 album Kaleidoscope Heart -- the presence of that album's producer Neal Avron, who sat out The Blessed Unrest, is apparent -- and that warm, colorful sheen is enough to make the album play as pop: simply judged on its surface, it provides tangible pleasures. The nifty trick Bareilles pulls off on What's Inside is how the songs also contain a double-edge, serving the drama of the story while also playing as pure pop. Sure, there are flourishes that are pure musical theater -- there's the opening fanfare of "What's Inside." "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me" is Gilbert & Sullivan by way of Todd Rundgren and the show-stopping ballad "She Used to Be Mine" almost seems to conjure a lonely spotlight -- but never once do the songs on What's Inside feel in mere service to a plot. Taken on their own, they're lively, clever, and bold, and further evidence of Bareilles' versatility, elegance, and wit. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released September 7, 2010 | Epic

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Opening with an airy a cappella title track, Kaleidoscope Heart takes greater sonic risks than Little Voice largely because Sara Bareilles can afford these left turns: she has a big pop hit underneath her belt, so she aims to buttress her artistic reputation. Bareilles hasn’t turned into Joanna Newsom overnight -- she remains steeped in the ‘70s, building her melodies around loping piano progressions, draping even her sprightlier moments in strings -- but there’s a greater variety of textures here along with stark melancholy undercurrents on her ballads, particularly the closing pair “Breathe Again” and “Blue Bird.” She executes this contemplation well, but her strength remains elongated melodies so well-crafted and memorable that they seem familiar upon first listen. Despite lushly detailed arrangements, Bareilles never pushes this distinctly commercial gift too hard, letting the songs flow easily, and this gentleness is almost as appealing as those classically constructed melodies, tunes so softly insistent they could conceivably appear on adult contemporary charts anytime from 1971 to 2010. Because Bareilles is so naturally commercial, it’s easy to dismiss these gifts, but her effortless music should not be taken for granted; it’s tough to write tunes that play this easy that wind up enduring, and Bareilles has now done that two albums in a row, which is pretty impressive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Epic

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Pop - Released March 8, 2019 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released October 28, 2008 | Epic

Like almost every other live release of the new millennium, Between the Line: Sara Bareilles Live at Fillmore is a multi-format package appearing as a CD/DVD set and a Blu_Ray release, all containing the same set. It's a crisp, clean production designed for home theater systems, but it also works very well as a standalone live album, since its lean, lively arrangements -- often featuring extended piano-and-voice segments, with "Fairytale" being performed entirely solo by Bareilles -- wind up showcasing the melodic craft behind her songs. She's still supported by a band that's every bit as professional and slick as the production on her 2007 major-label debut Little Voice, but the live setting is by its nature loose and vigorous, giving her music some punch it lacks in the studio. This energy is the main distinction between Between the Lines and Little Voice, and it's more than enough reason for the dedicated to spend some time with this live set, although the added muscle also bodes well for her next album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released March 22, 2019 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released May 22, 2012 | Epic

Part of Sara Bareilles' charm is that she's one of the few millennial singer/songwriters who are unashamed of being polished and mainstream. She revels in rich, detailed productions, which is what makes Once Upon Another Time -- a stopgap EP designed to tide over fans as she prepares her third album -- a little disarming at first. Working with Ben Folds, a co-judge of hers from the NBC series The Sing-Off, Bareilles strips her sound to its core, opening the five-song EP with its skeletal title track. Things get a little bit more elaborate from there -- "Lie to Me" is built upon trip-hop loops and swoons into Beatlesque psychedelia -- and she certainly demonstrates the influence of the perennially smirking Folds on the profanity-riddled "Sweet as Whole," a dirty joke that bogs down way too quickly. Something similar could be said about the simplicity of the production: as sweet as some of these spare voice-and-piano tunes are, it's hard not to wish they were a little more adorned. Nevertheless, the songs are generally good -- "Sweet as Whole" irritates like a piece of popcorn stuck in the teeth but the others are strongly constructed, melodic ballads, highlighted by the single "Stay" and "Lie to Me" -- and Bareilles remains a thoroughly engaging performer. As a teaser, this certainly whets the appetite for her next full-length record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released May 16, 2008 | Epic

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Pop - Released October 26, 2018 | Epic

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Pop - Released September 15, 2017 | Epic

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 30, 2018 | Masterworks

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Pop - Released September 7, 2010 | Epic

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Pop - Released October 31, 2018 | Atlantic Records

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Pop - Released May 22, 2012 | Epic

Pop/Rock - Released November 18, 2011 | Epic

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Pop - Released November 2, 2015 | Epic

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