NEW MUSIC: Corinne Bailey Rae “The Sea”

Anyone who's been through a serious loss knows about the baffling part: After it's over, you are still you. You are you, plus the loss, plus the pain and confusion the loss causes. The process of healing isn't really a matter of "getting over it" -- taking it in is what's necessary, incorporating what's been felt and learned and figuring out how to be the person you've always been is what's different now.
"The Sea," British soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae's second studio album, marks a change from her first effort in that it features moody, deeply textured tracks that require repeated listenings to fully absorb their sound.

Rae's husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, accidentally overdosed on methadone and alcohol in March 2008. Rae grieved for him by doing nothing for months, then returned to making music. That event pervades the album, with lyrics clearly reflecting her grief. The muted “Are You Here” seemingly recalls their first meeting: “He’s a real live wire/He’s the best of his kind/Wait till you see those eyes” she sings in a fragile voice. The lead single, the jazz-tinged “I’d Do It All Again,” Rae beautifully expresses that love can cause pain, but is ultimately rewarding. While the mood is somber, the song ultimately communicates hope for love.

Despite the serious underlying meanings on many tracks, The Sea also contains some upbeat, funky moments. “The Blackest Lily” features gospel-tinged organ and a rocking guitar solo. Fans of her first album will enjoy the slow burn of “Closer,” where she seduces a lover: “I want you to travel with me/Lay loose and let your mind go free.”
Rae can tell stories from other people’s perspectives, such as on the dark “Paper Dolls.” The song begs the question: where does the false persona end and the real person begin?

Perhaps no other track sums up the deeper meanings of The Sea than the last two tracks, “Diving for Hearts” and “The Sea.” The former song again refers to her personal tragedy: “Can’t forget the things I’ve seen,” she laments, but she longs to “keep on diving/Till my heart is found.” One senses that Rae wishes to find peace and removal of her pain; writing these songs presumably helps her find catharsis.

While The Sea communicates all Rae has endured since her husband’s death, it also expresses hope in love’s healing power. Fans expecting something as immediately accessible as “Put Your Records On” might be puzzled by the new album, but repeated listenings undercover the songs’ true beauty and complexity. Spend time in The Sea for a rewarding musical experience.
Listen and watch her first single off her new album “The Sea” below: “I’ll Do It All Again”

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