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She’s that ‘Little Voice’ in your ear

Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles remembers one of her first big breaks -- a couple of years ago she got to go to London to open for Maroon 5. “I didn’t feel prepared for it; I hadn’t earned it yet,” she says. “I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as I would have had I been pounding the pavement.”

Oh, there were dues to be paid, and the former waitress and UCLA communications major ended up paying them before signing with Epic Records in 2005, a steppingstone on the path to last month’s release of her album “Little Voice.” “I pinch myself every day,” she says from a tour stop in Portland, Ore. “I still think it’s amazing that this is the job I get to do.”

“Little Voice” fits snugly into the adult-contemporary model -- it’s more take-no-chances than take-no-prisoners -- and it establishes the 27-year-old Eureka, Calif., native as an artist whose sincerity and spirit live up to her soulful melodies. Comparisons have been made to Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan, but there’s Sheryl Crow earnestness in how Bareilles, performing live, disdains the forlorn stare into space in favor of real eye contact.

That forthrightness shows even on songs like the aching, string-laden “Gravity,” which the piano-playing singer says “was part of a cathartic attempt to get over the man that broke my heart.” Like many songs on “Little Voice,” it was written long before Bareilles -- who plays Tuesday at the Roxy -- became a commodity. She relishes sharing them: “I know those songs come from an honest place.”

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Sara Bareilles and Jon McLaughlin, the Roxy Theatre, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Tuesday. $15; $17 day of show. (310) 278-9457.


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