Review: Corinne Bailey Rae, "The Sea"

When an album follows a tragedy, there is always the hope that the music will not just highlight the intricate emotions but give us a glimpse of how to move on from something so intense. Corinne Bailey Rae’s latest work, The Sea, most certainly encompasses all facets of such a situation. It’s been four years since her acclaimed self-titled debut, a hiatus caused by the untimely death of her husband in 2008. As with many artists who face such similar situations of personal tragedy, Rae has translated her pain into a revamped style. Read the rest after the jump.

The first notable thing about this album is that it plays beautifully from start to finish. There is an underlying calm that resonates in every song, which may occur because every track pulls from musical influences that span from jazz to indie rock. There is no time where you can pinpoint a neo-soul or any other genre-specific “sound." It’s all-encompassing and never delves too much one way or another, which is exactly what makes it work. Even the more upbeat tracks, such as "Paris Nights / New York Mornings," meld pop, acoustic and soul. By keeping herself from falling into one category or another Rae leaves space for all sorts of evolution in her music. Better yet, Rae does not shy away from her grief. From songs like “I Would Like To Call It Beauty” whose first line begins So young for death… , to the album’s first track "Are You Here," she faces her real-life emotions head on. Her quiet and raspy voice wails and whispers along as if always in an honest conversation with herself but just loud enough to be overheard and understood. It’s a refreshing perspective in a world where denial seems standard.

This album may be filled with an undertone of melancholy, but Rae takes us through both the high and lows that follow after your world has been torn apart. The hope that she retains throughout the record is what keeps it from bogging the listener down with depression. This is what music does: relates to situations we all face and helps us work it out. This may not be the album you’ll play for a dance party, but it will revive you just as much. Like a spring cleaning after the worst winter, it will leave you refreshed, happy to have made it and looking ahead to brighter days. -Judnick Mayard

The Sea
drops tomorrow.

Review: Corinne Bailey Rae, "The Sea"