Love On The Rocks


Love on the Rocks may be my favorite song on Careful Confessions. This is the song on the album where she and her band mates show off just how talented they are. Guitarist, Javier Dunn gets co-songwriting credits and in fact, it’s the only song that’s not written by Sara exclusively. The piano, drums and bass line are so tight I find it very hard not to gesture along with a little air piano during those triplets. (yes, it’s happened… a lot). I could totally see Jack White wailing this riff on his Harmony Rocket Guitar during his White Stripes years. Maybe he’ll cover it. #thatwouldbeepic

It must be a blast for Sara to play this song on the piano. Then she adds her counter-melody vocals and it all works. Love on the Rocks is classic blues, yet toe-tapping. It’s lyrics are, cry your eyes out powerful, and yet your body is overtaken by a slow bobblehead kind of groove. I’m convinced the juxtaposition of the groove and lyrics is purposeful.

One again, Sara has written a narrative through the lyrics about a failed love. Three?heartbreak songs into her debut album and it’s hard not to feel that behind her smile, bright eyes and wit, Sara has experienced more than her share of pain for her to draw inspiration. Maybe that’s what makes Sara so wonderful. Her songs are presented in a very personal manner. She wears her heart on her sleeve, makes no apologies, and through it all she’s grounded and lives a seemingly happy optimistic life despite the rejection and heartbreak. Or, she could have us all fooled with a very vivid imagination.

Whatever the case, it’s intoxicating.

Love on the Rocks is a song about two lovers that have an unhealthy relationship, yet they keep coming back for more. They get together, quarrel, break-up, and then like a true addiction they start all over again hoping for new results. I like the unintentional cell phone beeps at 2:17 from the keyboard player. ?Those beeps always makes me think that Sara’s character is getting ready to re-engage while she clearly communicates the relationship’s dysfunction in the lyrics. ?The song’s bridge ties the song up in a bow with lyrics that speak to drinking your sorrows away. If she starts with this verse we might be tricked in thinking the song is about a drinking problem. But make no mistake, Sara’s not trying to be overly clever or misleading here. She’s using drinking as a metaphor. Love on The Rocks is a song about a toxic relationship. And it’s heartbreakingly beautiful.

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The bass line sets the tone for this song. Undertow?starts with a walking bass line groove that?s so expressive, it?s as if it were a person at a party, telling all the fun stories and working the room. ? The song continues to build instrument by instrument, but there?s no real melody here that one can sing along too. Each instrument seems to be doing its own thing, but?musically it all works like one big basement blues jam session. Upon first listen this was?not one of my favorite songs on the record. The use of cliche?s in the verses seemed out of place in the otherwise poetic cadence of Sara?s lyrics. However, the?lyric in the chorus,??My heart breaks? in a? heartbeat??is particularly nice, and the song grew?on me after a few more spins.?Undertow?s magic is the sheer effortless of the entire song. ?It plays?like Sara and her band are?performing the song live, and while I?may not be able to sing along with Sara?s fluid vocals, I?really don?t care because the energy Sara exhudes?in the song makes up for it.

If Sara?s music ever gets worked into a Broadway musical, (I can see in lights now???Now at the?historic Booth?theatre!, ?Between the Lines?, a new jukebox musical featuring the songs of Sara Bareilles!?) Undertow would be sung by our heroine in the middle of Act I when she tries to gain the eye of someone she clearly can?t have, or he is, at least disinterested in her beyond the ?let?s have a good time? phase. This song is tailored made to be sung as a duet. ?Our heroine starts, sitting on a couch stage left. ?Her friend, (let?s call her Mary) who is slightly older, but not by much, is getting a beer from the fridge. ?Our heroine sings verse one and the chorus, while Mary comes in with verse two, trying to give stern advice. ?The heroine cuts her off and finishes the verse and they both sing harmony and trade off verse three with playful banter as they fight for the tv remote. End scene. ?Applause ensues.

The surprise of Undertow is at end of the song?the false ending. ?Sara lets the song be silent for a couple beats?before starting back again. ?I?d say this new added section is the music effected by the undertow. The entire song leads up to this moment and the metaphor is clear:?It?s separated from the rest. ?It?s moving on. Whether we want it to or not.

Side note trivia: In 2004, she appeared as a singer in a bar in the indie film Girl Play. In the movie she performs the song ?Undertow?. ?Now, go impress your friends at the next company party.

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