‘I hope my music is healing. I believe that music can encourage you to move on from painful events. It helps to make a scar fade.’- Corinne Bailey Rae
There are very few timeless voices in music today. The rule today is, the more generic you appear, the more appealing you are to the masses. Corinne Bailey Rae, with her unique blend of soulful cooing, is the rarest of exceptions to this rule. From the moment the songbird parted her lips on her debut single “Like a Star,” it was evident that music lived inside of her. Rae’s voice was delicate, fragile and melodious. Her lyrics landscaped the white picket-fence that housed love and independence. A jewel; rare indeed.
On The Sea, Rae’s introspective sophomore album, the effervescent beauty appears to have lost her liveliness, when she lost the love of her life. When Rae’s husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, overdosed on methadone and alcohol in 2008, Rae’s heart broke. The Sea serves as Rae’s own personal form of therapy, where fans are able to share in her lamentation, pain and fear. And while this type of transparency is moving, it has the potential to be detrimental.
The album begins with the wistful tune, “Are You Here,” a tribute to her late husband. Rae decidedly left the question mark off to reflect the abstraction of the thought. “Are You Here,” she sings. ‘Cause my heart recalls it all feels the same.” Here we are able to capture the way a lonely spirit is able to create an alternate reality, a fairytale of sorts; that ends when she awakes from her daydreaming. Similarly, Rae bares it all on “I Would Like To Call It Beauty,” explicitly licking the wounds of her late husband’s death as she sings, “So young for death, we walk in shoes too big; but you play it like a poet, like you always did.”
Not every song on the follow-up is dreary and full of gloom. On “Closer,” we get a glimpse of the Rae that we’ve come to love and revere. The jazzy, soulful record is inviting, as she channels her inner Jimi Hendrix with funky guitar riffs mingling with her powerful falsetto. She even solicits the musical expertise of Roots front man, ?uestlove, on the retro-pop “Blackest Lily,” revealing the rainbow that lies beyond the clouds of her current tragedy.
The Sea is both poignant and ethereal in content and delivery, offering listeners an opportunity to internalize every emotion evoked within the sweet sound flowing from Rae’s mouth. While those emotions may seem dark to most and prove hard to sell in a time of pretentious, celebratory foolishness, the brief moments of peace they bring to Rae provide lucidity; which after all, is music in its most organic state-therapeutic.
out of 5
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