I remember a cartoon that ran in Rolling Stone in 1990. Called “Mr. Guthrie’s Homeroom,” it depicted a classroom with Woody Guthrie standing at the blackboard. In the front row taking notes sits Bob Dylan. Behind Dylan, and leaning over to copy off Dylan’s paper, is Bruce Springsteen. And copying from Bruce Springsteen’s paper is John Mellencamp. (I was hoping I’d find it through the magic of the Web, but all I found was a reference to it and details of the issue in which it ran.)
This cartoon came to mind recently when I picked up Little Voice, the debut CD by Sara Bareilles. Only in this version it would be Joni Mitchell teaching the class, Tori Amos in the first seat, Fiona Apple behind her and Sara Bareilles in the back row. Throw in Nellie McKay and Rachael Yamagata while you’re at it.
It seems like these big-voiced piano-playing songstresses are popping up all over the place, and most of them are really good.
I’ve been putting off buying Little Voice for awhile, though I’m not sure why. I’ve heard a couple of Bareilles’ songs on XM radio and enjoyed them, and the album has been in the Best Buy sales bin for months, but something about the precocious pic on the cover stayed my hand.
I finally picked it up the other day and now I’m sorry I waited so long. It’s a terrific debut, full of smart, bluesy piano pop, great hooks and strong vocals. I’ve heard it all the way through only once but I can already tell it’s a keeper.
This song, ‘Bottle It Up,’ is an early favorite.