If you’re a musical theater buff like I am, I’m sure you’ve heard of the musical Waitress and know every song from beginning to end and can rattle off every single word sung. For those of us less familiar with the production, the premise and story is intriguing – but that’s for another day. The most important aspect of the whole show is the music, especially considering that Sara Bareilles wrote both the music and lyrics to the entire venture.
This massive undertaking would’ve never been possible without Bareilles’ debut album Little Voice. The title of the album is ironic – the “little voice” that the singer has is anything but tiny. Combined with her artistic songwriting and soulful singing, her songs project a viewpoint of being strong and empowered. Her lyrics tell stories and evoke emotions that are relatable, showing us her down-to-earth nature throughout the album. All of this contributed to creating one of her best albums, and one that would create the star that she is today.
Kicking off the album is “Love Song,” which is hands-down her most well-known and popular song, for a good reason. The infectious beat emoting from the piano creates a hook to draw in the listener. This instrument plus vocals can stand on their own. However, everything is taken to the next level with the addition of the guitar and drums. During the time of this song’s release, iTunes was becoming an increasingly useful and common platform for singers to get exposure for their music. So as Apple users perused the abyss of singles to add to their new iPod, they more than likely would’ve picked up this song that would later shoot to number one on the charts, thanks in part to the music service.
As the album progresses, you realize that the major theme is love. Whether that be pining after a guy or getting over one, there is a lot of underlying frustration. It’s this feeling that provides the grittiness for “Come Round Soon,” a tremendously underappreciated song. The balance in every aspect is phenomenal – the perfect choice of tempo, length of the entire song, and short chorus. These are all telltale signs of a song that has consistency and have the prerequisites to allow Bareilles to show off her vocals. The mixture of background notes and the long sustained note that goes into the stratosphere of her vocal range opens us up to the singer, not just the songwriter. It’s this lethal combination that helped create such a noteworthy album.
The piano just doesn’t quit as “Many the Miles” starts up in a happy, laid-back way. It makes you feel like you’re in a jam session – random interludes from the piano play while the guitar goes at it improvising as Bareilles provides “ooh”s and “aah”s. Of course, we know this wasn’t the case, but the effortlessness gives off the impression of an informal but personal show for the individual listener.
To close everything up comes along the ballad, “Gravity.” The orchestra and piano, although traditionally classical when out together, seem to play directly towards Bareilles’ style of music and singing. It’s a vulnerable tune that is best suited for these instruments, and their combination creates a personal song that speaks directly to the heart about love loss and frustration again – but in a gentle way.
There’s honestly no question as to how this album propelled Sara Bareilles to fame and fortune. It’s the raw soul searching lyrics and perfectly meshed music they’re set to that create a picture and a story for the listener. All this happens while she sings beautifully and always in-tune to the emotion according to the song. Little Voice gives a voice to this singer and helps to define her career in a positive way, an indicator of what amazing things there are still to come from her.