A Dirty Mouth and a Golden Voice

September 1st, 2011

Sara Bareilles – Rumsey Playfield – August 31, 2011

Last night, I couldn’t help but think Sara Bareilles must be doing something right. She sold out Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield, making it possible for those in attendance to temporarily forget their 9-to-5s and everyday troubles and to focus on the sunnier side of life. Her voice is undeniably beautiful and unfaltering in sound. Known for an impeccable range, which easily slides from contralto to mezzo-soprano, Bareilles was able to hit every single note with a rare clarity that is almost unheard of especially in live settings.

But more than that, Bareilles also took the time to connect with her audience and didn’t rush through songs, but rather formed connections through banter and storytelling. The crowd was with her the whole time, adoringly finishing each line of every song. However, she took the audience by surprise, for despite her sweet disposition, Bareilles has the mouth of a trucker! A favorite moment was when she yelled, “Any of you guys have a douche bag out there that you wish you could forget?” as a lead-in to the song “Gonna Get Over You” off 2010’s Kaleidoscope Heart. Honestly, who doesn’t have someone they want to forget? Bareilles then kiddingly added: “OK, so this is another depressing song” to which everyone cheered as she began the soulful “Basket Case,” a ballad about being melodramatic when coping with the loss of love.

The edgier “Breathe Again,” a song she admits to writing while crying her eyes out and fiddling around on a rented piano, created a stillness in the crowd, while hits like “Love Song,” off of 2007’s Little Voice, and “King of Anything,” from Kaleidoscope Heart, were giant sing-alongs. Part of the reason Bareilles is so appealing to the masses is because although her lyrics deal with heartbreak and heavy times, they’re still wrapped up in a bundle of hope. Even her sad songs have a feeling of happiness and warmth to them that instill the sense that everything will be all right. —Kristen Ferreira