By Aileen Lu
Sara Bareilles has some large shoes to fill for her return to the music scene following her Grammy-nominated hit “Love Song” and platinum album Little Voice. But you won’t find the Californian singer-songwriter among the ranks of pop stars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. With a style resembling Colbie Calliat and Ingrid Michaelson, Bareilles does not disappoint in Kaleidoscope Heart, her second installment of captivating melodies for the soul.
The album opens with an eponymous vocal arrangement, proving Bareilles’ ability to harmonize without her signature instrumentals. She follows up the serene introduction with “Uncharted,” the song that inspired the entire album, and “Gonna Get Over You,” a rhythm and blues version of post-breakup reassurance. The barrage of peppy tunes then breaks with “Hold My Heart”; emotional crooning tugs your heartstrings, lamenting the pain and denial of drifting away from a significant other. With a motley collection of lyrics based upon relationship and personal issues, Bareilles finds a way to keep interest alive until the very end.
The album’s lead single “King of Anything” holds truest to Bareilles’ charmingly snarky attitude. The alternating “oh oh oh’s” and trumpet notes draw you into a whirlwind of empowering lyrics that somehow intertwine in a conversational tone. Like “Love Song,” “King of Anything” applies to a romance gone rotten and her frustration with the music industry attempting to mold her into the next pop sensation. She demands her freedom of judgment, telling off boyfriends and music producers alike: “Who cares if you disagree, you are not me; who made you king of anything?”
Throughout Kaleidoscope Heart, Bareilles provides the optimal mixture of mellow and tunes. She tends to deceptively lull the listener with her soft voice through the first verse, luring him or her into a false calm. Then comes the strong chorus and the percussion beats, and the energy levels quickly rush upward. For example, “Let the Rain” seems like it would be full of delicate acoustic guitar, but she breaks the illusion with a masterful use of hand claps that snaps the mind out of potential monotony.
Needless to say, Bareilles successfully avoids the sophomore slump that afflicts many new artists in this day and age. For hearts young or old, Kaleidoscope Heart has a song for everyone. Even if powerful lyrics are not high on your priority list, Bareilles’ infectious singing and simple yet catchy piano chords will definitely appeal to any musical tastes for hours of listening to come.
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