For her fourth album, pop chanteuse Sara Bareilles tackles songs she wrote for the Broadway-bound musical “Waitress,” which had its premiere at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. You can feel her inhabiting various characters as they narrate their stories, from waitresses bustling about a diner in the catchy, harmony-laden “Opening Up” to the couple contemplating infidelity on the tragicomic “Bad Idea,” with help from Jason Mraz. And you can feel Bareilles approach her craft much like the pie-making main character; once she has the basic ingredients measured, as she sings in the opening number, then “It’s down with the recipe and bake from the heart.” This is most evident in the sprightly “When He Sees Me,” which boils over with dating anxiety, and the brutally exquisite self-reflection of “She Used to Be Mine.” Familiarity with the contours of the musical would no doubt enrich the experience, but it’s to Bareilles’s great credit that “What’s Inside” works on its own merits as a great pop album.
ESSENTIAL “She Used to Be Mine”
Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.