For Sara’s latest installment of her VH1 Posted series, she took the time to write this elegant note about the various emotions she went through during the process of writing and recording her second full-length album, Kaleidoscope Heart. Enjoy!
It’s me, Sara. As I’ve said before, I don’t do those fancy bios. So sue me.
Kaleidoscope Heart is my new album, and I’m beyond proud of this collection of songs, in no small part due to the fact it was like pulling teeth to write them.
We spent the better part of three years touring and supporting my first record, Little Voice, and by the end of that process I was completely burnt out. Don’t get me wrong, it was an unbelievable ride that far surpassed my expectations in the best way. We had some unforgettable high points as well as some very humbling low ones, and like any good rollercoaster, it’s exhilarating but you still feel a little bit sick at the end and are happy to have your feet on the ground again.
I thought that I would use our much-needed time off to just pour myself into writing, but I actually found that I wanted nothing to do with music for a little while. I preferred drinking copious amounts of coffee, going to yoga, and looking for cute throw pillows at Target. I love throw pillows.
As the time passed, I slowly started writing again, and truly amazed myself with just how horrible the songs were. And then the fear set in.
I think I fell victim to what a lot of artists go through with a second record: the expectations, the pressure, the anxiety of what’s to come, the idea that maybe I’ve already written my best work…
Weeks before I was supposed to start recording, I was in full-scale panic-attack mode, feeling pressure to start the ball rolling again, but not having material I cared about. I only had about four new songs that I really loved, and the rest were truly embarrassing. Thankfully, over a margarita, my good friend Matt said something profound and poetic that made it all come clear:
He said, “You can’t polish a turd. A bad song is a bad song. Ask for more time.”
And so I did.
My manager suggested only recording the four songs I loved and I agreed. Thank God he did, because the floodgates opened after a taste of what being in the studio would look and feel like. It was easy, and exciting, and infinitely inspiring. I wrote the rest of the record in about a month, largely based around the song “Uncharted” that still feels like the centerpiece to me. My fear of what was to come was keeping me from doing anything. And finally, I cared about what I was saying.
As homage to the song that freed me, I took the title of the record from its lyrics.
My counterpart in the studio, Neal Avron, is one of my Buddhas in this world. He’s one of the most patient, musical, kind, and dedicated people I’ve ever met. We were an odd pairing for sure, as he’s best known for his rock records (Fall Out Boy, Say Anything), and I do covers of songs from Dumbo and love the Golden Girls. But it was exciting and felt completely right. We spent about six months making this record, and the record that came from it is exactly what I wanted. With Neal’s help, I took risks, and pushed myself both as a player and vocally, and I followed my gut wholeheartedly for the very first time. And I can’t wait to share it.
I can’t wait to see these songs come to life.
I can’t wait to reconnect with fans from the stage. I can’t wait to see how many times the word “Kaleidoscope” gets misspelled.
I can’t wait to get on the ride again.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]