The Blessed Unrest

Four albums in, the singer-pianist behind the hit "Love Song" has not shed her major songwriting affliction: She's just too diplomatic. The Blessed Unrest is full of broad, exposition-heavy vignettes of heartache and resiliency; the songs feel groomed for rom-com soundtracks, from the benign post-split nightlife ode "Little Black Dress" to "Manhattan," a devastated ballad where Bareilles promises her ex she'll flee the island because she's no longer "one half of two." The road odyssey "Islands" hints at more adventurous paths left unexplored in its abstract piano and slightly distorted harmonies – odd, intriguing tools she could use for a  second-act career twist, if she indulges them.

From The Archives Issue 1188: August 1, 2013