Review : Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea
LatimesblogsThe singer-songwriter reaches into the depth of her grief and delivers a moving, if not seminal, album.
Anyone who's been through a serious loss knows about the baffling part: After it's over, you are still you. You are you, plus the loss, plus the pain and confusion the loss causes. The process of healing isn't really a matter of "getting over it" -- taking it in is what's necessary, incorporating what's been felt and learned and figuring out how to be the person you've always been is what's different now.
"The Sea," Corinne Bailey Rae's sometimes hard to absorb but ultimately deeply rewarding second album, is about that process. Rae's husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, accidentally overdosed on methadone and alcohol in March 2008. Rae grieved for him by doing nothing for months, then returned to making music.
Though she's known for the kind of delicacy that's often dismissed as "lite" -- her 2006 self-titled debut was a careful exploration of the feminine psyche set within arrangements that melded Laurel Canyon folk with early-1970s boho soul -- Rae searches for the pinpricks and love sighs that intensify gentle emotions. On "The Sea," her carefulness complicates what might have been a blunt expression of pain. ...full text
MusicomhIt is difficult to remain objective when reviewing any piece of art directly informed by a very public death. In the case of Leeds songbird Corinne Bailey Rae's second record, The Sea, it can be difficult to separate the obvious hike in quality from the tragic death of her husband Jason Rae in 2007.
Taken on face value, Bailey Rae has made a huge jump up musically from her poppy RnB roots. The Sea is a dense, lush and muti-faceted record, with Rae's melodic sensibilities mixing with much darker jazz and rock influences, and her carefree spirit tempered with a much more meditative approach. But, as an audience knowing what lies behind the musical change in direction, it lends The Sea a much more profound air, pushing it up towards skirting around becoming, if you'll excuse the hijacking of Dave Egger's title, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Opener Are You Here is a perfect case in point. A quiet, alt-rock strum that could have been a simple love song in anyone else's canon acts as a punch in the gut for the listener. As she sings "He's a real live-wire... Wait till you see those eyes", it's both heartbreaking and celebratory - tones that the record shifts effortlessly between over its 12 songs. As the strings and the voice begin to soar, and the loss becomes more apparent, it's clear that today's Corinne is light years ahead of her 2006 incarnation. Lead and 'comeback' single I'd Do it All Again drives the point home, a smoky heartbreak song, complete with soaring strings and gospel backing vocals as she sings "You're searching for something I know won't make you happy/ You did it again/ You broke another skin"....full text
EwGiven the tragic death of Bailey Rae's husband almost two years ago, it's only natural to find a few sorrowful tracks on her second album, The Sea. Grief is just one of the feelings she powerfully conveys here, though. Bailey Rae also expands her range with several surprisingly hard-edged guitar and organ workouts, and returns elsewhere to the sunny neo-soul sound that helped her last disc go double platinum. What makes it all work is her lithe voice, as eloquent an instrument as ever. B+...full text
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