Sara Bareilles has done it again — she’s made us fall in love with her.
The “Love Song” singer-songwriter has returned with the album “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress,” the score to the new Broadway musical “Waitress” set to premiere in 2016.
As far as musicals go, the songs are vital, almost more so than the acting. Though we’re unable to know how this adaptation of the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film will pan out, Bareilles’ album suggests the show will be a knockout.
The score, set in chronological order, depicts a waitress balancing life, love and finding herself with a bun in the oven. Echoes of the words “sugar,” “butter” and “flour” appear throughout the album to resonate a hardworking woman’s life built on simple — and sometimes unstable — staple ingredients.
Bareilles’ history of upbeat pop fits perfectly with the busy pace of a diner, but it’s her softness and longing that reaches audiences during the score’s ballads. We’ve seen it before in her last album, “The Blessed Unrest.”
Is this type of album surprising from Bareilles? If anything, it demonstrates her range as an artist. She’s not just the writer of that one pop song we were obsessed with in 2007. She’s a real composer and lyricist. It’s unlikely most major artists these days could pull of such a feat. Bareilles has shattered the barrier of pop music to show that she can do more than play lovesick songs to be repeatedly played.
Although it’s not a typical album, “What’s Inside” is diverse and relatable enough to be enjoyed by those far from the theater crowd.
We’ve all felt the anxiety of a crush’s losing interest in us or winding up being a “psychopath who escaped from an institution,” like the feelings expressed in “When He Sees Me.”
Her duet with Jason Mraz in “You Matter to Me,” could easily make it to mainstream radio. The harmonization of their voices and the lyrics are the perfect combination for a hit during the holidays.
Though she has never experienced motherhood, Bareilles manages to describe the experience flawlessly in “Everything Changes.”
“She Used To Be Mine” is the best song on the track and the most provoking.
Could we, too, be waitresses — running through life endlessly to make ends meet and forgetting ourselves and our needs in the process? Aren’t our imperfections and strengths the elements that make us who we are?
Kudos to Bareilles for making us face an existential prompt during a light-hearted musical.
We experience the highs and lows of “Waitress” in the score, but it’s the exiting number, “Lulu’s Pie Song,” that leave us with hope.
Hope for a waitress, hope for us and hope Bareilles will get a few award nods from this beautiful album.
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