“I fell more deeply in love with the writing of the musical Waitress than I had ever imagined,” said Sara Bareilles back in 2015. “It proved impossible for me to imagine handing over the songs to the show before selfishly finding a way to sing them myself.” And so What’s Inside was born.
This release followed the initial stage run of Waitress (it had a tryout in Boston in late summer 2015), and so features a collection of songs that reflects the show’s early life. For its Broadway transfer in early 2016, elements were re-worked & re-ordered to make the show we recognise today – and that in turn led to the Broadway cast recording. Bareilles’ entanglement with Waitress went one step further in March 2017 (and then again in January 2018), when she briefly took on the role of Jenna on Broadway.
So it follows that What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress acts almost like a concept album, as it includes Door Number Three (replaced with What Baking Can Do on Broadway) and Lulu’s Pie Song; for those of us who would like to get an idea of what Sara Bareilles would be like in the show, it’s a nice glimpse into at least how the songs sound in her voice. And if all else fails, it’s a pretty tight pop album that you could easily listen to out of context and with no pies in sight…
Fellow singer-songwriter Jason Mraz features on the album, duetting on Bad Idea and You Matter To Me – he made his Broadway debut as Dr Pomatter in November 2017, ultimately starring opposite Bareilles when she rejoined the show for a short run. Their voices blend perfectly together, creating beautiful harmonies; You Matter To Me is particularly exquisite.
It’s not just Jenna’s songs that feature on this album, with When He Sees Me, Never Ever Getting Rid of Me and I Didn’t Plan It making the grade. The latter is definitely one of the highlights of the whole album; a spirited number with a hint of country rock to it, the song is ideally suited to Bareilles, who makes it her own with punchy vocals and extra riffs. It is interesting to hear Never Ever Getting Rid of Me performed in this way; on the cast recording as well as onstage in the West End it’s an all-out comedic affair, but this version proves that it’s just as effective when done in a slightly more subtle manner. Unsurprisingly chosen as the only single to be released from the album (in the US only), showstopper She Used to Be Mine begins with a real sense of tenderness, before gaining in strength & resolve, going out softly but decisively.
Whilst the album isn’t a vital piece of the Waitress collection, it’s definitely something that the more enthusiastic fan should wrap their ears around. I always find it interesting to see how a show evolves, and as I don’t own a time machine this is the only way I can really give that a go! With a continued presence on Broadway, a recently opened West End production and an Australian opening planned for next year, it’s fascinating to listen through and then see how the project has developed since the early days – it’s amazing what baking can do.
What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress is available to buy, download on iTunes or stream through Spotify.
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