After fleeing to the Broadway scene for six years, Sara Bareilles is finally back with her new album, Amidst the Chaos. Filled with themes of love, feminism and politics, Bareilles has certainly made up for the lost time and has given fans an in-depth look to what she’s been thinking about during her time in the theatre scene.
In stark contrast to her previous albums that include pop anthems such as “Love Song” and “Brave,” Amidst the Chaos is richer in both sound and lyrics, a concrete representation of the ways Bareilles has grown to be more confident and vulnerable in her work. It’s no question that this was Bareilles’s intent; she teamed up with producer T Bone Burnett, who is famous for his organic approach to music production and focus on American roots in order to produce a very real, raw-sounding album.
From soft piano and guitar riffs to untouched vocal inaccuracies, Bareilles embraces messiness and clings to confidence. Although Amidst the Chaos doesn’t incorporate much of the musical theatre style fans were anticipating, Bareilles still strayed from her traditional pop sounds and opted for a gentler, jazz approach. Moreover, she unapologetically allows her lyrics to be politically and emotionally driven. From break-up songs addressed to the Obamas to ballads about her own personal encounters with love, Bareilles doesn’t hesitate to testify to a broad array of themes for the sake of her own self-discovery.
The most blatant difference between Bareilles’s new album and any of her previous work is her prominent devotion to political campaigns. Released earlier this year before, “Armor” is an undoubtedly feminist anthem. Its lyrics confidently expose the patriarchy with lines such as “Blind men only set the world on fire.” Although lyrically it lies in the same realm as her empowerment anthem “Brave,” Bareilles has given fans the same feminist fire with a more down-to-earth sound. Bareilles even offers some words of consolation to immigrants in “A Safe Place to Land,” where she encourages travelers to “Be the light in the dark of this danger.”
Despite the ways she has incorporated ideas that fans haven’t seen in any of her previous works, Bareilles has also made sure to stay true to her roots by including some of her traditional love songs. Her heart-felt ode to a deadbeat lover, “Poetry By Dead Men” provides a taste of the traditional “Bareilles style” fans have grown to appreciate.
What’s most notable about the album is the way it both empowers and heals. Bareilles makes it known this album was intended to mend broken feelings and experiences she hasn’t had the opportunity to share in her previous work and hopes others can share in that healing. Now that Bareilles has distinguished herself in both the theatre and pop spheres, she has definitely taken the liberty of toying with new sounds and opening up more in her music. Bareilles’s ambition suggests this is just the beginning of a new era. There’s no doubt that she will continue to amaze us with her drive to keep growing in her music and career.