Bareilles successfully sells a modernized version of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” balancing powerful piano chords with equally heavy percussion. This perfectly crafted confection sends you straight to a ‘70s jazz lounge on a rainy evening—whiskey in hand, heart slightly broken, but pride still intact.
Probably the most melancholy track on her Blessed Unrest album (which, by the way, totally deserved that Album of the Year GRAMMY nomination), "Manhattan" is the centerpiece of the record she wrote while living in New York. She sings about letting go of someone who doesn't love her, while saying goodbye to another love (NYC, baby).
This loving cover of Otis Redding shows up on not one but two of Sara's live albums. She sings it with so much passion and such customized flair that you'd think she wrote it.
Another standout on The Blessed Unrest, this is probably the closet Sara B will ever get to EDM territory. Violins and drums mix with buzzy, lo-fi electronica, before the song explodes into a bombastic chorus centered around our girl's soaring vocal layerings. If you thought Bareilles was just a voice-and-piano gal, think again.
Bareilles’ strongest songwriting quality is her knack for understanding relationship complexities. “Between the Lines” addresses the miscommunication and denial that occur when one perpetually exists in a state of gray. Just the hook itself, easily the track’s strongest and most heartbreaking moment, is well worth a listen.
On this gorgeously haunting duet, the winter season is a metaphor for wondering whether there's any love left in someone. The ladies' harmonies are bone-chilling, but it still creates an atmosphere that's comforting and uplifting. Why isn't this an annual holiday classic?
For each of her relatable heartbreak songs, Bareilles pens equally brilliant bars about heart flutters, butterflies, soul mates and all that good stuff. “One Sweet Love” is for those ready to put their hearts on the line in exchange for a shot at love, with the understanding that things may very well not work out—and that's okay.