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Livin’ Live with Sara Bareilles

Jess Shaffer | Friday, December 5, 2008

Many may remember Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles’ appearance at Legend’s Nightclub in Fall 2007 before her successful emergence on the popular music scene. Others may have seen her in her 2008 Summer Tour with Counting Crows and Maroon 5. Either way, seeing Sara Bareilles live is not an experience easily forgotten. Perhaps unfortunately pigeonholed by her hit “Love Song,” nominated for Song of the Year at this year’s Grammy’s, Bareilles’ real staying power will come from her appealing live performances.

Clearly, not everyone can make it to a Sara Bareilles concert. But luckily, her most recent release, “Between the Lines: Sara Bareilles Live at the Fillmore” brings her live talent to personal music libraries everywhere for people who don’t have the fortunate opportunity to catch a performance. A nice substitute for a live viewing, Bareilles’ new album is definitely worth a listen. Ultimately, her recorded performance is a relaxing, stimulating, and enjoyable experience that, just like her concert, will stay with listeners.

Most people probably recognize Bareilles from her radio-smash, “Love Song.” Though her success with “Love Song” is undeniable, its potential to stick Bareilles with a one-hit-wonder status is unfortunate. “Love Song” is not the only track equipped with radio-success potential, and overall, all of Bareilles’ music is lovable. While “Love Song” is undoubtedly a current feel good mainstay, it is just a small glimpse into Bareilles’ true talent.

With the soulfulness of Norah Jones, the edgy angst of Feist, the pop catchiness of Gavin DeGraw, and a lyrical talent akin to Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles is the perfect storm of soul, jazz, and pop-rock. Her voice has a distinct jazzy tone that is tempered with its pop appeal. With a good mix of jazzy, up-beat tracks and mellow, relaxed musings, she offers a wide range of emotions in a variety of sounds. The lyrics are intelligent and still relatable, dealing with romance, fame, and the changes life brings. Bareilles meets the daunting task of having a mature musical approach that maintains the novel touch of youth.

Bareilles’ quips and comments throughout her performance are minimal. The few lengthier comments are excused with self-effacing humor. Still, the commentary is a nice peak into the artist’s personality, which comes across as casual, sweet, and unpretentious. Otherwise, the commentary doesn’t provide deep information about her work on the whole; rather it serves to do little besides humanize the music.

Her ability to write endearing lyrics and couple them with simple, fun accompaniment is a huge strength. But, overall, it is her charming live quality that separates her from other contemporary artists. Though she’s often put under the umbrella genre of pop music, she has an atypical talent for delivering a compelling live performance. Enhanced with pitch-perfect vocals, a consistent jazzy twang, this is music that is hard not to like. “Between the Lines: Sara Bareilles Live at the Fillmore” is an easy listen and also stimulating. With the holidays fast approaching, it would be a great stocking stuffer but is good enough that it could also pass as an out-and-out Christmas gift as well.