Sara Bareilles is not only a critically acclaimed vocalist but a songwriter to her core. The last project she worked on was composing the music for the hit musical, Waitress. She has also taken time to focus on her acting, as she played the role of Jenna in Waitress and also played Mary Magdalene in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live.
I have been eagerly awaiting her return album and finally, it has arrived. I’ve listened to the album approximately thirty times and I’m ready to share my thoughts and opinions with the internet. Spoiler alert: I loved it.
In this album, Sara Bareilles returns to her early roots and some of the songs are reminiscent of her first album, Careful Confessions. Amidst the Chaos dives into Bareilles’ personal life, at a time when America is broken, chaotic and needing some love. She sings of female empowerment, immigration and at the end of the album, Bareilles emerges even stronger than before.
Track by Track:
The album opens with the song, Fire. This song was one of the album’s singles and it is one of the upbeat tracks on this album. The song centers on knowing a relationship isn’t working and accepting that it is over. It has a hopeful undertone and the use of drums and guitar are the most powerful elements of this song. I personally deem this track to be a certified bop and it’s one of the most energetic songs on the album.
The next song is No Such Thing, which was a promotional single from the album. This track is all about how there is no possible way that Bareilles can get over her past lover. Although the lyrics that toy with denial are gorgeous, my personal favorite part of this song is the instrumentation. Bareilles uses piano, mandolin and an ominous acoustic bass to create a dreamy type ambiance which makes the song memorable and a stand out track.
The third track on this album is Armor, which was yet another single. This song was released back in late October and is a female empowerment anthem. I can honestly say that when I marched off to the polls on election day this November, I was blasting this song on repeat as I prepared to vote in my first midterm election. This song sends a strong political statement and the piano that plays throughout the entirety of the song is truly unforgettable.
The fourth track on this album, If I Can’t Have You, brings a lighter tone than the three previous tracks. This has been one of the tracks that I have replayed over and over again because it’s just a perfect song for a sunny day. The song is all about finding a way through life without a particular someone and being grateful for the time that you spent with that person. This song has a double meaning for Bareilles as she not only sings of a love, but also of the eight years where America was lucky enough to have Barack Obama as president (#relatable).
Next up is the song, Eyes on You. This track actually is the only one that took a hot minute to grow on me. This song has more of a “rock feel” and uses a lot of guitar and drums. Bareilles sings of mental illness and I love the chorus of this song but to me, it seems as though the verses fall a little bit flat.
Track six is titled Miss Simone. This song is seriously as sweet as a spoonful of honey and it immediately relaxes me. Bareilles reflects on an intimate relationship with a lover and connects this emotion to the songs of the singer, Nina Simone. This song has big “mosey” energy as it’s slow moving and gorgeous. Miss Simone has become a stand out track for me and it’s just such a good song to listen to in the early morning or late at night. Miss Simone is true versatile queen.
Wicked Love is about being addicted to an unhealthy relationship. This track also grew on me throughout my listens and now I love that it bops and yet has some emotional content. I really like the songwriting and instrumentation and as expected, Bareilles’ vocals are pitch perfect.
We’ve arrived at one of my favorite songs from the entire album, Orpheus. This track is where Bareilles wrote the lyric that inspired the title (Amidst The Chaos). This guitar in this song is delicately played and Bareilles’ voice soars throughout the piece. My favorite part of this song is the message of not giving up on love. This song is one of my absolute favorites and is perfectly played on a rainy day. We stan.
Bareilles goes from one masterpiece to the next. The following song, Poetry By Dead Men, is another perfect song from this album. This track has strong visual imagery within the lyrics and you can literally picture Bareilles standing in a flowing green dress feeling stronger than she ever has before. This song embraces the single life and while Orpheus is all about not giving up on love, in this track Bareilles is over her partner and is finding strength in herself. I actually dare you to listen to this song and not feel empowered.
In Someone Who Loves Me, Bareilles finds herself feeling safe and in love. This song is slow moving and the instrumentation is simple. However, that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. This is the track that begins to wind the album down. It’s a beautiful addition to the album and plays a major role in Bareilles’ storytelling.
Saint Honesty was released a week before the album dropped as a promotional single. Bareilles has stated that this is her favorite track on the album and it’s one of mine as well. She performed this song on Saturday Night Live which is when I realized how vocally difficult the range of this song is and how Bareilles is able to soar throughout the melodies. This song really is a standout and I can see why Bareilles has such a personal relationship with it.
The album concludes with A Safe Place To Land which is a duet with John Legend. In this song, Bareilles continues her political messages as she offers a hand to immigrants and other people who may be struggling. Her message is hopeful and she ends the album by looking forward to when the sun will come up. This could apply to a time when the political climate in our nation changes or when she feels effortlessly in love again. The world may be a bit chaotic right now, but this track and this project shows that Bareilles is still feeling hope in her heart.
I won’t lie, I was flat out sad when I finished my initial listen to this album. Bareilles is one of my faves of all time and I could listen to her for hours and hours. This album shows that she is an artist who is consistently growing and honing her craft. This cohesive album is a perfect example of her abilities and adaptability as an artist.
The Negative: This is a hard section to write because there aren’t any major flaws with this album. There aren’t any songs that I feel should have been excluded from the project. I guess I wish Bareilles would have been a little bit more chronological with the storytelling but the way she ordered the tracks still works for this project. I like the way she ended the album but I wish she would’ve ended with a more personal track such as Saint Honesty.
The Positive: This project really checks all the boxes for me. It’s cohesive. It tells a story. I even like the cover art (which is important to me). I’ve already listened to this album so many times and it hasn’t even been out for a full two weeks. Give this project a listen or two, preferably on a rainy day. You won’t be disappointed and it might even provide you with a bit of hope.
My Favorite Songs: Fire, No Such Thing, If I Can’t Have You, Miss Simone, Orpheus, Poetry By Dead Men, Saint Honesty.