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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea

Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea
2010, Capitol Records

In 2006, Corinne Bailey Rae proved the old adage about years of work turning into an overnight success. Her self-titled debut album debuted at #1 in the UK and crashed the Top-20 in the US, selling four million copies in the process. Today she returns with The Sea. You might expect that Corinne Bailey Rae would follow the standard pop star path, working with big producers to craft a successful follow-up record. If you think that’s Bailey Rae’s path you haven’t been listening to her thus far. Bailey Rae entered The Sea on the same down home basis, working with friends to craft a highly personal song cycle of love and loss.

The Sea opens with Are You Here, a sultry, reserved love song. Bailey Rae has a compelling voice, but we knew that already. She doesn’t overpower you, but draws you in and makes you never want to leave. Are You Here is a great start. I’d Do It Again is a sweet love song commemorating the premature loss of her husband Jason Rae in 2008. It’s a complicated love song and fetchingly honest. Feels Like The First Time gets a retro 1970s feel; moderately upbeat and mildly funky. On The Blackest Lily, Bailey Rae again hits a great retro feel. The melody is the cornerstone here, a powerful and moving progression with great movement. Bailey Rae is incredibly convincing.

Closer comes down a step, going for more of an easy radio vibe. It’s a little too tame and too stereotypical compared to the rest of The Sea, but Bailey Rae bounces back nicely on Love’s On It’s Way. It’s a contemplative tune, ala Norah Jones; sweet, mellow and vulnerable but with a palpably powerful core. The power here is hope or something very much like it. I Would Like To Call It Beauty has an old school jazzy feel to it. Bailey Rae’s voice is at its most idiosyncratically beautiful here. Paris Nights/New York Mornings is strong, but Paper Dolls is absolutely exquisite. Paper Dolls is a song of empowerment that manages to avoid being preachy. This is all done to a melody that will have you singing/humming long after the CD stops playing. Driving For Hearts is decent, but not quite at the level of the rest of album. Bailey Rae closes strong with the title track. The Sea is melancholy; the finest songwriting on the disc. Bailey Rae shines like the sun on a quiet, vulnerable performance that plays like a force majeure.

Corinne Bailey Rae caught lightning in a bottle with her debut album four years ago. It would be easy to assume The Sea might suffer the usual sophomore jinx, but just listen to the album once and you’ll know that’s not true. If anything, Bailey Rae has grown as both a performer and songwriter in the last four years, seasoned by both the joy and pain; love and loss. It’s impossible to predict what the commercial response will be to The Sea, but artistically, Corinne Bailey Rae’s star just got a few shades brighter than it’s ever shone before. The Sea is amazing; a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Corinne Bailey Rae at or You can purchase The Sea on CD from or in stores everywhere. Expect wide digital distribution, including iTunes and

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