Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae’s sophomore album The Sea, an abrupt departure from her acclaimed self-titled debut, has left many former listeners scratching their heads, wondering what could have gone so wrong the second time around. Where is the adorable vehicle of sound that so thoroughly expressed our high school feelings, littering our myspace profiles, ever-present in homecoming-week talent shows? The answer is in the simple fact that this album is anything but a cutesy showcase—it is a vessel of grief, perhaps even a therapeutic outlet of great loss. Corinne Bailey Rae’s husband died of an accidental overdose in early 2008, and this album has resulted from the artist’s coping. If personal tragedy and motivation are somewhat disregarded, however, the album leaves listeners in the lurch after such a solid feel-good debut in 2006.
The Sea’s melodies sound tired, the new, dark, synthy jangles that bounce through the tracks seem cheaply out of place; Corinne Bailey Rae herself sounds completely deflated as she croons hollowly through the album. Prior to its release, the new album was rumored to portray (no surprise here) a darker, gloomier, more personal Corinne Bailey Rae than the first. This feeling comes through clearly throughout the album, save the one out-of-place, unfortunately best, stand-out track, Paper Dolls (track 9), that sounds like a mistake only because it sounds like it belongs on the first album. In the remaining tracks, no matter how desolate her situation, our artist ends up producing what sound just like hundreds of other second-rate sad pop songs we’ve skipped before. Tragedy has forced Corinne Bailey Rae to abandon the delightfully slow, refreshing soulfulness of her first album, to the second one’s overall detriment. All mediocrity aside, however, this album is still a remarkable accomplishment in what it represents—a grieving musician finding solace in music when their entire world has been upended.
Tracks to consider: Paper Dolls (track 9)
-- Fiona Hanly,
Host, "Sweet ‘n Flo," Mondays 12-1 on WGTB