Musings about music.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea

The road to Corinne Bailey Rae's sophomore album was not an easy one for her to travel. She began working on material for it shortly after her debut in 2006 but two years ago was struck by tragedy when her husband, musician Jason Rae, passed away after an overdose. Rae took a complete break before choosing to complete her album The Sea and her grief is clear on this album.

I was a huge fan of her debut, her fresh jazzy sound reminded me of a newer Billie Holiday. She was singing jazz like it was meant to be sung, not trying to remake it into something too much like pop music. Her sound has changed on this new album. It's not bad, and it's clearly still her but rather then channeling Holiday I would compare her more to Joni Mitchel.

The opening track Are You Here is almost heartbreaking given her story.

I’d Do It All Again is Rae's first single from the album. It displays a soulful and more familiar sound. The song was actually written in the wake of a big argument with her husband two prior to his death, and its inclusion shows her determination to keep everything honest and unsentimental. The song closes with the prophetic line, “You’re searching for something I know won’t make you happy”.

In I Would Like To Call It Beauty her mourning laces every word, “So young for death, we walk in shoes too big, but you play it like a poet, like you always did.” Ouch.

That being said the tone of album isn't as overly depressing as one might think, and there are certainly some upbeat moments like the infectious and fun, although a little out of place, Paris Nights/New York Mornings.

The Sea closes with the title track, one of the first tracks to be written for the album it actually predates her late husband's death and is based on a story of her grandfather's death in a boating accident while her aunt watched from shore. IN a sort of intense irony the song explores grief and powerlessness in the face of cruel fate. “The sea, the majestic sea, breaks everything, cleans everything, crushes everything, takes everything from me.”

The album is not exactly what I was expecting, but it's filled with raw emotion and she has a stunning amount of talent. There is a real maturity to this album which portrays grief and longing but also a knowledge that life goes on.

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