February 26, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae's Master Piece "The Sea" Is Oceans of Emotions & Tidal Waves of Brilliance

A few years ago I had asked Corinne to help read the Grammy Nominations just as her debut single "Put Your Record On" was getting people's toes tapping across the globe.  Everything about her seemed so proper and she was absolutely lovely.  However, I felt like I could never take her too lightly because there was something behind her eyes that made me feel I was in a room with someone capable of musical greatness (and I've not felt that way around some of our most popular artists).  I felt as if she had the ability, thru her songwriting/singing to encapsulate any feeling, any doubt, any situation or consequence -- she had the ability to literally "sing my life with her words" and it was scary to me.  She ended up getting several nominations and I was invited to see her concert live at the Ford Theater shortly after and I was blown away by her performance, stage presence and specific insight into humanity and how we navigated life.  Then I was heartbroken to hear in 2008 her husband of just a couple of years died suddenly.  Her grief casted her away to an isolated island where rip tides of sorrow, loss, disbelief and reality tidal-waved over her again and again and again, I am told.  Through that grief, unlike an Annie Lennox who fought back at her husband who divorced her with two of the most depressing albums (including a song she titled "The Saddest Song I've Got") in recent memory (and I  love me some Annie), Ms. Bailey Rae has written and created one of the most emotional, beautiful and surprising albums I've ever listened to and you know I've heard A LOT.  My advice to you is to not give up on this album after one listen.  At first you will think it's interesting and that her voice is cute.  But it wasn't until the 2nd listen when i heard her words and the instrumentation whether it be the haunting opener  that she sings to her late husband "Are You Here" or my favorite track (of many favorite tracks) that puts Amy Winehouse's retro act to even more shame with its grooving, driving bass, swirling strings and a vocal that is at once delicate and seconds later celebratory of the time they had together without ever apologizing or pitying herself "Paper Dolls."  She has built an album that covers the entire emotionaly grieving gamet without ever staying stuck in that place of "life then is not worth living for me."  And she brings tracks that are classic, funky, R&B, gospel and chooses the styles to sometimes fit exactly what she's written and sometimes to completely contradict the words -- isn't life like both of those scenarios.  Other of the sets highlights include "Closer," "I'd Do It Again," "Blackest Lily (my second most favorite), "Diving for Hearts," and the closing track "The Sea" which has her at last saying goodbye.  Believe me when I say you can listen to this CD and not want to jump off a bridge because you feel so badly for her -- she won't allow you to feel that way.  The musicianship by Rae as well as the musicians and producers of this made absolute magic together.  And from what I know of the Raes' relationship no matter how brief, I would bet that her husband had a hand as well in making this a real but moving forward ode to the realities of love.