Come Round Soon

Come Round Soon (CRS) is the second of six tracks included on Little Voice that are re-imagined songs from her debut album Careful Confessions. The first CRS entry can be found here. Come Round Soon V2.0 (CRSv2.0) is a nice evolution of the original. In CRSv2.0 Sara has the time to flesh out the composition to become a full and very tight song. It sounds polished and and the song showcases her growth in self editing. All the silliness from the original has been stripped away, the sound effects, the A Capella opening and the result is a tight, well crafted song that I am sure if given the appropriate time and resources to Careful Confessions, CRSv2.0 would have been the only recording of the song.

Lyrically the song is similar with one glaring differentiation:

I can’t believe that he’s gone.

This lyric shows up only at the end as backing vocals and it clears up any misconception about the original CRS version’s meaning. It places the topic of CRSv2.0 squarely on the shoulders of the notion of an important person in her life that has stolen her heart, and she can’t forget him no matter what. She tries, but he’s the one thing she can’t live without. She tells herself “maybe he’ll come round soon.”

Side note: When played live by Sara at her concerts Come Round Soon is played on an electric guitar and she riffs off bluesy chords and signs passionate lyrics. Jack White would be proud. The song seems more tortured and her soul in way more pain. Personally I like this version (CRSv3.0) much better. A YouTube video from Lauren Leialoha is below.

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One Sweet Love

A second time around this song is still anxiety filled.

One Sweet Love (OSL) is the first of six tracks included on Little Voice that are re-imagined songs from her debut album Careful Confessions.

The premise of the song has remained the same: Imagine a world where you realized your one chance at true love was in the past. Maybe you didn’t recognize it until they were gone.  Maybe you fucked it up. Did something stupid. Or worse yet, you did nothing about it and unwillingly allowed the one true love to just slip on by? Then with this knowledge you’d spent your next formidable years obsessively trying to recreate the circumstances for that mysterious or perhaps a new one true love to come around.

However, this version of One Sweet Love (OSLv2.0) is very different from it’s twin. The original OSL was void of Sara’s signature piano and featured a light guitar sound and expressive bass line. The Little Voice version has her piano featured prominently, the instrumentation is full and it feels right.  OSLv2.0 still starts with the lone guitar to pay its respects to OSL but that’s about it for the musical similarities. When the piano chords come in, the song builds to a full sound with many layers of instrumentation.  Listening to them one after the other I get the sense that Sara was rushed to get the Careful Confessions version out.  Maybe she just ran out of studio time, or money, or both. Whatever the case OSLv2.0 feels complete and the original, while nice, now seems thin and plays like a version that would be recorded in a acoustic session 7 years into the future. OSLv2.0 showcases how Sara has grown as an artist at this point in her career by expanding on her earlier work and improving upon it.

 

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Vegas

Sin city is all about the chase. The money, bright lights, and easy fame. It’s the chase of the slot machine, the get rich quick card game, the successful double-down, and for the musician it’s the chase of easy success.

The premise is this: Just get me to Vegas, I’ll make it big, because that’s what people have told me. Sara crafts lyrics that are almost a warning to a younger self to be careful of what society has deemed important. The person Sara is talking to seems to have been a big fish in a small pond and is naive in chasing all the tempting cliche’s. Move to Vegas, or NYC and become a small fish in a big pond. Lose 10 pounds, and your identity too. Perhaps move to the Mexican border because someone told you that’s what’s necessary to gain success and be happy. But older Sara knows happiness is not something you chase. It’s a stable state of mind that comes from within. Success is just a result from years of sleepless nights, touring and hard work.

Vegas has a groove that is reminiscent of the first half of Careful Confessions. The instruments are tight and her vocals and composition of the entire song plays like an upscale lounge song by someone performing in Vegas. My favorite part is at the end when she growls out the vocals “Vegas please.” A rare break in her usually crystal clear voice that I find very refreshing.

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My Love

The last song on Sara’s debut album is a live sweet and tender love song about a lover that she has yet to meet.  Much like the song Come Around Soon, but the difference here is that she has yet to meet, whereas in Come Around Soon she is perhaps waiting for love to strike twice. the lyrics in My Love feel like a poem scratched on the pages of a diary with little editing.  It’s structure is academic. Rigid.  4 lines per stanza, with rhymes and each end. The lyrics read like a stream of continuous thought.  If not for Sara’s vocals, the structure of the lyrics would be obvious.

Remember the Sara Bareilles Broadway musical I referenced
in Undertow?
,“ Between the Lines”, the new jukebox musical featuring the songs of Sara Bareilles!” Well if there was such a musical (And it would be epic)  My Love would be the first song sung in Act I after we are introduced to our main character. She’d sing My Love after she hangs up her rotary phone in her bedroom fresh off a conversation with Mary her slightly older friend. Mary has a boyfriend, and while on the call confides with the heroine that despite the trouble, love can be pretty amazing. (Little do we know that Mary and her love will break-up later in Act I causing tension)  After she hangs up the phone with Mary she imagines (campiness included) what a true love for her might be like.  She pens her thoughts in her diary, and then gets called to set the table for dinner by her father in the kitchen off stage. Fade to black. Applause ensues.

I always thought of the last song on an album to be akin to a season finale cliffhanger of that tv drama you just can’t quit.  It leaves you wanting more from that artist.  And Sara leaves her most poetic song on the album for the end. The next album can’t come fast enough.

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Red

If you own a business you know there is one goal you should to focus on.

Stay. Out. Of. The. Red.

If not, your business fails.  Retailers understand this goal. See there’s this silly day called Black Friday. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s called Black Friday because that’s the day where retailers, due in part to ridiculous price cuts and ravenous consumers, count on sales to move their ledger from the red to black.  Now, I am not saying that Red is a song centered around saving businesses and commerce.  Not at all. But Red is a song about saving. In this case Red is a song about Sara saving herself.

The color red is an alert. A warning. But red is also the color of perceived happiness. Who doesn’t like a red firetruck, or want a red balloon as a kid? A red bike, or sports car? Red Starburst, jelly bean or Red Ryder BB Gun? Red, while a color of warning is also one of comfort, warmth and accomplishment. Sara explores this balance of the color red in the lyrics. She has devoted herself to life on the road she has to be mindful of warnings that can place her sanity in the red while chasing success.  Things like the jerks, creeps and d-bags Sara talks references in City. Things like rejection and negativity that if dwelled on can bring her down. Or perhaps things like the separation from family and friends, lovers and companions that used to be there to lift her up when times became mentally bleak. At it’s core, Red is a message of strength and independence.

Sara’s perspective tells us that in her isolation she’s developed coping measures to pull herself out of the red.
So that she can enjoy the red things in life.

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City

This is sara’s one true confession on the album.

This is it folks.

Right here.

Grab some popcorn. Snuggle up by the fire with your grandmother’s afghan and listen close.

Sara’s one true confession:

The road has come with sacrifice. Constant rejection is tough. Playing to semi-empty bars to guys that maybe she’d never consider talking too, or worse yet they’d never consider talking to her, has taken it’s toll. She spells out within the lyrics that while she loves what she does for a living she’s really not comfortable with the nightlife scene, but she had to do what had too to succeed.  “They only listen to me when I sing” gives me the visual of Sara holding up the wall at her high school dance—awkward and goofy she waits. This is what makes Sara so enduring. Despite all her success she knows where she came from. She’s honest, transparent and shares that her journey to become a household name wasn’t all “sunshine and lollipops”.

This live rendition of City paints a picture of life on the road and her journey to get to where she is as an artist.  There have been many great songs about the rigorous nature of performing in hole-in-wall locations or just basic life on the road. Such as, Billy Joel’s The Piano Man, Jackson Browne’s The Load In/Stay, Bob Seger’s Turn the Page or Faithfully by Journey. What makes these songs work is the honest perspective from which they are written.  Each gives an inside look into the day in the life of the singer/songwriter.  While we listen, we’re invited backstage, on the tour bus or as a guest at the secluded meet and greet. City is Sara’s contribution to this perspective, yet her’s has a twist: There has also been songs written about labels that take advantage of musicians by wielding the power of the big city lights over them.  That’s the underpinning of verse two.  Label’s can be jerks, pervs, and d-bags that take advantage of the naive.  Alanis Morissette’s Right Through You comes to mind as another song that takes this perspective.  From what I can tell Sara must really love playing this song at concerts, I have seen her a couple times in concert now and everytime this song comes up I feel like she gives a piece of herself away to those who are fortunate to hear her bear her soul so willingly.

City is Sara’s Piano Man. It’s her Right Through You, Her opportunity to reinvent Turn the Page. It’s her confession. And it’s mastery.

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Inside Out

Inside Out is the first of four live recordings that close out Sara’s debut album Careful Confessions. The first seven songs leading up to Inside Out have introduced a tortured soul. Someone who’s battling obsession, a failed love, a lost love, is at times vulnerable and exposed emotionally, or has major anxiety over what society expects. In the lyrics of Inside Out Sara conveys the message of strength in the self-realization of all these weaknesses. It’s within the culmination of this reality where she understands that she’s not perfect. She accepts her faults, and that she’ll never have the answers to everything that holds her down.

Some days are perfect, and some simply could not get worse.
Some days it’s all worth it, and some days this life is nothing but a curse.

She has two choices: Allow hardships she’s battling to suck her into a self-loathing abyss or she can fight off the negativity by loving inward, accepting her faults and growing. I love the juxtaposition of emotions at play in the lyrics. Insecurity vs conviction. Vulnerability vs. courage. A tired soul vs. inner clarity. Alone vs. mentally strong. She gains strength by allowing adversity to clock her on the chin, and after she cleans the blood from her lip, she recharges her spirit from within. Because at the end of the day she only needs to be accountable to herself. It’s her life. Her choices. Her destiny. She stands tall though she’s small. She breathes in a lung full of cool air and smiles, because she’s alive and tomorrow’s a new day.

I know what I’m not… and you can’t drive me away… it’s only rain.

And just like the rain, Sara knows the rain will eventually stop, revealing the clear blue skies and warm sun overhead.

Come Round Soon

Yet another song about a dysfunctional relationship.  Come Round Soon is the fifth out of the first seven songs on Careful Confessions that deals with this topic.  Sara has again painted the picture of an important person in her life that has stolen her heart, and she can’t forget him no matter what. She tries, but he’s the one thing she can’t live without. She tells herself “maybe he’ll come around soon.” 

I really like the way this song starts with the A Capella chorus in what seems to be six or seven channels of Sara’s voice.  The chords are thick and at times almost dragging down heavy.  The arrangement however is nice and a throwback to here vocal days while at UCLA. I wonder if Awaken A Capella ever performed this (or any vocal group for that matter) on a stage, campus grounds, or street corner?

What I find to be very distracting is the added element of the old-time record player sound effect that’s added during only verse one. I find the sound effects in the background to be an odd addition to the song. Come to think of it maybe is not a record player sound effect at all, but a flame under a bong? Perhaps the person coming around soon is really a drug dealer selling her pot? It’s an interesting perspective, but I’m guessing not the right interpretation.  The obvious choice would be a dysfunctional relationship.

When Sara plays this song live it’s usually with her strumming a guitar and taking Jazz liberties with her own melodies.  This is certainly the one song on the album that has the biggest transformation from the album version and what you’ll hear at a concert. Live she adds a “Not me.” to the end that showcases her amazing ability to belt out powerful vocals. The only thing missing here is a bluesy Javier Dunn guitar solo that he wails on for about 5-7 minutes to close out the live version of Come Around Soon. Maybe that will happen someday… ‘till I see her again I’m staying believing.

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Fairytale

Sara’s lyrics seem to have at least one great one-liner that sets the tone for the entire song. Fairytale’s signature line is “Go tell your white knight that he’s handsome in hindsight.” 

Ouch.

Fairytale breaks down the sexist view of what a woman wants.  It’s message is one of strength.  It’s Sara’s I Will Survive and her reinterpretation on the theme of the empowered woman who doesn’t need a man to define her. Girls don’t always need someone to come save them, because “sometimes princesses can save themselves.” Sara flips the Disney model on it’s head. What if Disney went rouge, DC Elseworlds style, or even more challenging, what if Disney has it all wrong from the start?

What if Rapunzel was in that tower because she liked her independence.
What if Snow White didn’t want to be a servant for seven messy dwarves?
What if Cinderella had a crush on the boy down the street instead of being force fed a proposed happy ending by the lure of royalty?

I like this simpler version of the song and it’s unintended metaphor.  It plays like a demo, or perhaps an in-progress thought since it’s only Sara and her piano. She doesn’t need anyone else to add any other instrumentation here. Just like her heroine in the song that snubs the fairytale, she is working it out just fine on her own. I’m sure that’s not Sara’s intent of the lone piano, but I like how it works out.  Thus, Fairytale is far removed from the start of Careful Confessions and the full sound of Love and the Rocks or Undertow, and it signifies the transition to the latter half of her debut indie album which includes four live tracks. This song does have an official music video which features Sara playing the roles of fairytale princesses within a community theatre quick change setting. The video is quirky and I find it to be quite charming. It was also one of the first introductions Sara gave to her fan base showcasing her humorous and self-deprecating personality.

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One Sweet Love

This song is anxiety filled.

And also the second song on the album to be void of piano. Which I don’t mind since it places all the focus on the vocals, bass and crisp rhythm guitar. The refrain is very easy to sing along too, so much in fact that Sara doubles up to sing harmony with herself.

Imagine a world where you realized your one chance at true love was in the past. Maybe you didn’t recognize it until they were gone.  Maybe you fucked it up.  Did something stupid. Found out he or she was actually married, or they had to go away oversees, across the country.  Or worse yet, you did nothing about it and unwillingly allowed the one true love to just slip on by?

Then with this knowledge you’d spent your next formidable years obsessively trying to recreate the circumstances for that mysterious or perhaps a new one true love to come around.

Yep, this song is anxiety filled.

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