Corrine Bailey Rae: In Review (from ACRN)

From, my review of Corrine Bailey Rae's new album. Enjoy!

Corinne Bailey Rae:The Sea
[EMI Records; 2010] 
Rating: 8/10 
By Star Watson, Staff Writer
January 30, 2010
Key Tracks: "I'd Do It All Again," "I Would Like to Call It Beauty"
Corinne Bailey Rae stepped onto the scene in 2006 with one of the most feel-good singles of the decade. “Put Your Records On” not only got her nominated for a Grammy, but she also won the hearts of millions with her spirited vocals and uplifting music. Her entire album, Corinne Bailey Rae, gave people just what they needed: a sense of love, longing, belief and pleasure.
Her latest, The Sea, is definitely not that kind of album.
This album is much darker and more somber than her previous work, likely because of the death of her husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 2008. The whole album feels like a beautiful funeral.
In “I Would Like to Call It Beauty,” she starts off with: “So young for death / We walk in shoes too big / But you play it like a poet / Like you always did.” This song seems like a letter she writes to him, as she uses words like “you” and “we.”
A similar song is her first released single for this album, “I’d Do It All Again.” On this track, she sings about not regretting what she said in a fight with her husband because she would never leave him. The song is about a love that is often bruised but never broken. A song claiming that love is never perfect, but she’ll always be with him – no regrets.
She does shine a little hope on her loss, but it comes in a very gloomy way. In “Love’s On Its Way,” she is inadvertently telling herself that everything, despite her loss, will be okay. She says in the second verse, “When the day comes / I wanna be able to say / That I did more than pray / … But did more than sulking, singing, and writing… I hope it’s not too late.” The first verse does include broader social issues, but the last, which is sad yet uplifting, is an inspirational song to the world and especially herself.
Her sound and vocals are greater evidence of the darkness present on this album. Where the beginning of her career saw a feel-good sound,The Sea is far more serious and personal. Her debut single, “Put Your Records On,” is considered a bubbly song for everyone to play. None of the songs on this album are bubbly, and they are not for everyone.
The closest thing to a “bubbly and upbeat” sound on The Sea is “Paris Nights New York Mornings,” which still doesn’t quite reach everyone as it praises living as a young adult and not caring about life’s responsibilities. Her vocals in “Put Your Record On” were strong, happy and confident to the point where she almost shouted her lyrics. Throughout this album, her vocals are rather airy, soft and almost depressing.
Still, she continues to lift spirits through her beautifully written words. Those words ultimately succeed in peeking through her sad soppiness. It’s a different kind of beauty than that of her first album, but beauty nonetheless. Corinne Bailey Rae can certainly bring something wonderful out of loss, but has displayed a completely different persona than what fans know her to be in the process.

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