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Review

Bailey Rae’s new album comes packed with emotion

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February 19, 2010

In contrast to her first massively successful, self-titled LP (the forty-ninth best-selling album of the 2000s), British Soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae’s sophomore effort is tinted with strong shades of melancholy and pain.

Born in Leeds, Bailey Rae burst onto the music scene in the summer of 2006, and charmed and soothed listeners with her singsong Jazz melodies that were calm, warm and refreshingly heartfelt. She was billed as a less-bland Norah Jones and a lighter version of Billie Holiday.

However, after the initial charisma of her two wonderful singles began to wane, it became apparent that the album was characterized mostly by an abundance of filler. Well-delivered, but somewhat forgettable nonetheless.

In contrast, The Sea, Bailey Rae’s latest record, begins with the soft words, “He’s a real live wire / He’s the best of his kind / Wait till you see those eyes,” certainly referring to her husband, who died of an accidental methadone overdose in 2008. It becomes immediately apparent that she is attempting to touch on more moving and personally meaningful subjects.

Here, she bears her grief to the world, making no apologies for any of her mixed emotions. Her loneliness again surfaces on “I’d Do It Again,” in which she croons somewhat incoherently over a waxing and waning acoustic guitar. “Hard to believe / That my heart, my heart’s an open door… see more,” she passionately delivers.

However, it remains clear that this record isn’t about mourning, but rather a heartfelt tribute. “This album, like everything I do, is made to try and impress Jason Bruce Rae,” she writes.

There is much diversity to be found on the album, including the hopeful and upbeat “Paper Dolls,” featuring a resonating chorus with a hint of pop influence. The perfectly-delivered “Paris Nights/New York Mornings” is a number infused with personality, spice and a hint of 1960s attitude-something that you could definitely dance to. The title track she sings, as if reminding herself, “Don’t you stand there wishing life would fade away.”

Bailey Rae has always had a remarkably silky smooth delivery, well accompanied by soft Jazz backgrounds and soul medleys. She seemingly hopes to show the world how she can be empowered, not burdened, by the power of love, and thus has evolved into a bolder and more impassioned artist.

The glimpses of vintage soul that Bailey Rae offers her listeners is something that
is starkly refreshing, especially when compared to the forgettable, substance-free R & B that is prevalent today. Following an upbeat summer soundtrack, Bailey Rae has now given us something for the long, cold days of winter.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.