Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"The Sea" Album Review

Imagine having everything absolutely perfect in the world as you know it. Becoming some what of an overnight phenomenon, Grammy nods, millions of records sold, being heralded as one of the best voices in music, tours, and a bevy of international music awards to your credit after only one album.  Now fathom if you can, tragedy. The death of your spouse.  A sharp descent and sudden stop from the mountain of fame.  This is what Corinne Bailey Rae has been dealing with the past few years. 

In late 2006 I met Corinne ever so briefly in London, England.  I was huge fan before this and getting the chance to encounter some one as charming as her, I consider a true blessing.  I left with sense of overwhelming realness after the two minutes or so that we spoke.  I highly doubt she remembers it but I do. 

So when I caught wind of her finally getting back into the studio to record the follow up to her debut self titled album, to say I was enthused would be the understatement of the decade. 

The album opens with a taste of classic British rock that has helped shaped so many generations with subtle guitars that seem to blend so effortlessly with Corinne's voice.  "Are You Here" turns from soft indie rock to soulful ballad with a haunting falsetto about love lost.  "It's hard to recall the taste of summer/ when everywhere around, the chill of winter/ it's so far away, are you here?"  the emotion in that line is chilling. 

What the album lacks in length, it definitely compensates for in substance.  "Feels Like The First Time", "Loves On Its Way", and "The Sea" are exceptional stand outs that not only combine personal experience and convey emotion, but have particularly memorable melodies that definitely lay the groundwork for the soundcape of the album. 

Honestly, there are one or two tunes on the album that I half pay attention to, not because they're bad songs, they just kind of sound a little to dated to blend as well as they should or could with the overall sound. 

On the contrast, two songs that really blow me away are the albums lead single "I'd Do It All Again" and "Closer".  The former wrote after an argument before her husband passed is relatable to every one whose ever been in a relationship that, no matter how many fights, no matter how many disagreements, you'd do it all again, because you'd rather spend the time fighting with them, then happy with some one else.  "Closer" just has that, night club/lounge jazzy feel to it that is undeniable.  It's almost a sequel to "Trouble Sleeping" off of her first album. 

Those familiar with Corinne's previous album will recognize the artist development immediately.  The first album showed Corinne's true musical prowess by playing most of the instrumentals and being completely hands on with the production.  The Sea has a live band on tap to provide an astonishingly smoother ride that provides a variety of notes, both low and high effortlessly. 

The sophomore jinx is always the looming fear of every artist in the music industry.  It's safe to say that all worries were cast aside through the creation of this album.  Though riddled with feelings and confessions of love lost, there is a certain sense of confidence and sure footed demeanour that is represented in every song.  The Sea is a dope ass album in short.