Her music and her voice sound so sweet, but in many of her songs, what Sara Bareillis is actually doing is not-so-sweetly telling someone off.
"I might not say it to your face, but I'm sure as hell gonna put it in a song!" she laughed.
"I think some people will find that surprising because you seem so nice," said Tracy.
"I swear like a sailor. I find great joy in being a little bit sassy and crass, and -- I don't know, going against the grain a little bit. I find a lot of joy in that."
Bareilles' 2007 debut single "Love Song" was the singer-songwriter's response to her record label. It was pressuring her to write radio-friendly hits.
The irony was that, after writing what was basically a kiss-off to record executives, Bareilles got the phone call: "'We love it! We're on board!' Are you crazy? Who's playing this joke on me?"
"Love Song" was no joke. It was the #1 song of 2008 on Billboard's adult contemporary chart -- and it earned Bareilles a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
She's now back in the hunt for Grammy gold with her new album, "The Blessed Unrest." It snagged a coveted nomination for Album of the Year.
That surprised many in the industry -- including Bareilles.
She described her reaction as "kid-at-Christmas excited."
"I was trying to text my family and my hands were shaking," she told Tracy. "It was just this moment of sheer joy."
"It made me look back at the record itself, which was such a labor of love and a lot of pain as well. It was a really hard record to make. And it was the product of a tough year in my life."
Bareilles ended a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, parted ways with her band of 10 years, and moved from Los Angeles to New York.
"I didn't feel like I was on fire in any aspect of just who I am and who I want to feel like I am in my soul," she said.
"Not to go all therapist on you, but did you figure out what was missing?" Tracy asked.
"Oh, no. I'm a mess still," she laughed. "I have therapy tomorrow."
Her uncertainty about herself may seem at odds with her latest hit, "Brave."
She says "Brave" was inspired by seeing a gay friend struggle with coming out. But when nurses and cancer patients at a Minnesota hospital posted this video online, "Brave" became an all-purpose face-your-fears anthem.
"It just felt like I was watching the song take flight and take on a life of its own," Bareilles said. "It was becoming something bigger than it had even been intended to be. And that's always -- oh my gosh, what an amazing hope for something you create."