Sara Bareilles serves up sincerity in 'What's Inside: Songs from Waitress'

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NOVEMBER 12, 2015

Good, genuine pop music can be hard to find — it’s easy for the genre to be too cheesy, repetitive, even boring. But somehow, Sara Bareilles has always been effortless in her pop execution, and she continues this habit in her new album, What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress.

Since the massive hit “Love Song” shot to the top of the charts in 2007, Sara Bareilles has been churning out magnificent pop music, and she is arguably one of the few artists who actually subscribe to a more traditional approach to pop music while regularly creating innovative material. But there’s a fun twist this time: This album is actually the soundtrack for the musical, Waitress, set to open on Broadway in 2016. Bareilles wrote the music for the musical and decided to release the tracks ahead of the show’s Broadway debut, with herself on vocals.

It’s an interesting and fairly new concept for contemporary artists to cross over to Broadway. Most notably, Cyndi Lauper wrote the music for Broadway’s Kinky Boots, which became a smash hit. And listening to Bareilles’ album, it’s fairly clear in some of the tracks that it’s meant for Broadway: “Door Number Three” and “When He Sees Me” are distinctly musical theatre-esque in both structure and sound, with strong narratives and dramatic musical cadences. But Bareilles’ pop nature — her unmistakably natural, expressive, clean sound — is still an abundantly clear theme throughout the album, even on these songs.

Much of the album is upbeat, with “Opening Up” as the second track and an immediate introduction to the overall sunshine-and-daisies feel of the record. The album flows smoothly from song to song, captivating the listener in the story of this waitress and her search for happiness.

Part of the beauty of this album lies in its ability to remain elegant and simple without feeling empty. The slower ballads on the record are unafraid of resting in a moment, providing the space for emotional depth. “Soft Place To Land” and “She Used To Be Mine” exemplify these qualities and are hauntingly wistful because of them.

There are two duets on the album, both with Jason Mraz — “Bad Idea” and “You Matter To Me.” The former is a fun, flirty tune that capitalizes on the new harmonic space between their voices, and the latter is a chillingly raw duet. Their vocals complement one another’s beautifully, and Mraz adds a refreshing dimension — both emotionally and vocally — to the album.

The musical theatre elements of this record add a new quality to Bareilles’ signature sound, and ultimately, this latest album is quintessentially Sara Bareilles: a must-listen playlist of perfectly executed pop.

Contact Paige Petrashko at 


NOVEMBER 12, 2015