Sara Bareilles – Amidst The Chaos

Sara Bareilles - Amidst The ChaosSara Bareilles‘ involvement with theatre has left an undeniable impact on her own music. With her sixth album, Amidst The Chaos, she creates scenes using the music and melodies of each song, supporting the subjects she sings about. The display of scenes across the album range from hopeful and determined to dreamy to light-hearted and almost whimsical.

Since her last proper album, 2012’s The Blessed Unrest, Sara has devoted her time to the stage, first scoring the hit musical adaptation to the film Waitress (in which she also performed for a ten-week stint), performing as Mary Magdalene on NBC’s live on-air production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and hosting the Tony Awards with Josh Groban in 2018.

At the end of 2018, she dropped the album’s first single early following the Brett Kavanaugh hearings last fall. Armor, a brooding piano number, uses the biblical story of Adam and Eve as the foundation for female empowerment, asking the fair question, “how the hell did Eve end up with all the damn blame?”. Musically from the pages of Fiona Apple, the song is a tribute to women to stay strong, even in the face of opposing politics and social issues.

While the album isn’t overly political, Sara says she started on it following the presidential election. No Such Thing was one of the first written for the record, which she wrote as an ode to President Obama, presented as a post-breakup ballad. The former President also inspired the light-hearted R&B-flavoured track If I Can’t Have You, where she sings about life after the Obama’s, thankful for what they had.

Elsehwere on the record, Sara engages her dreamy side on tracks like Miss Simone, a song that compares the music of one of her favourites, Nina Simone, to a budding relationship. The jazz influence shines through on another Lori McKenna-co-write Saint Honesty, described as a tribute to truth and transparency.

With T-Bone Burnett producing, the record is notably slower-paced in comparison to her previous albums, which can be challenging. Sara incorporates some light jazz (Miss Simone, Saint Honesty) and folk elements (Fire, Orpheus), but she keeps the familiar sprinkled throughout. Poetry By Dead Men and Wicked Love both offer some of the more dynamic melodies on the album; the latter in particular a mid-tempoed ear worm which has become one of her trademarks.

Even with the daily overflowing bad news cycle, Amidst The Chaos is a soothing album about hope and determination. Sara doesn’t shy away from the surrounding negatives, but she chooses to focus on what’s positive, or at least what once was good and can be again. For best results, close Twitter, pour a glass of wine and press play.

Three stars

Check Out: Armor, If I Can’t Have You, Wicked Love

1. Fire
2. No Such Thing
3. Armor
4. If I Can’t Have You
5. Eyes On You
6. Miss Simone
7. Wicked Love
8. Orpheus
9. Poetry By Dead Men
10. Someone Who Loves Me
11. Saint Honesty
12. A Safe Place To Land [featuring John Legend]

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