Blessed, she names the unrest that fills her album with bright, brilliant energy. Sara Bareilles’ fourth studio album made big waves in 2013, notably with its crowd-pleasing single “Brave.” Once again, Bareilles demonstrates that she is a triple threat with the ability to write, sing, and accompany herself on music that crowns the heart and soul.
“The Blessed Unrest” is a love song for the city of New York. She plays into the corners of the city with “Manhattan,” and we glimpse dawn creeping over skyscrapers in “Chasing the Sun.” Like urban life, this album is grounded, gritty, starstruck, and carries a gray and black edge. It’s real, for sure, and not without an element of bittersweet magic that comes straight from the buildings and blossoms of Central Park.
Bareilles is brave herself, experimenting with a new neon sound. The echoing “Satellite Call,” kicking “Eden,” and distant, sweet “Islands” suggest a throwback, exciting ’80s influence. But even when she deviates from her norm, Bareilles maintains a sweet, soft rock that makes you want to put on your headphones and melt.
There’s ample soul in “Blessed Unrest,” reflecting Bareilles’ unique ability to put raw, complicated feelings into words. “Hercules” is about becoming your own hero, a promise Bareilles lives up to in the free-spirited “Little Black Dress.” “I Choose You” is the album’s wedding-ready ballad, a self-described “lifelong love letter” to the person you choose to love, which, like “Brave,” fuels Bareilles’ advocacy for free living and loving. Another jewel, “1000 Times” is the confession of a broken heart.
We end with “December,” which contains the sad sweetness of the end of the year – and all of its hope. Bareilles creates a tracklist of songs that are so complete and personal, the album feels like a gift from someone you know. It’s also the end of something great, wise, and full of heart. So praise the blessed unrest.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.