Pros: um...pretty much everything.
Cons: the tempo isn't for everyone.
Oh, no. The invasion has occurred. Theyre
theyre everywhere. They all just seemed to come from nowhere and now theyre slowly taking over the world. Its like the just
Um, what am I talking about?!
Why, the rise of the British female soul singer, of course! Over the past year or two, several lassies from across the pond have decided to try their hand at success in the always fickle America. First up, there was Joss Stone, flower-child-turned-sexpot who makes more waves for her personal life than her musical ability. Next up, there was Lily Allen, supremely sarcastic and possessing one of the more bitter singles that Ive heard in recent memory. Most recently, Amy Winehouse decided to join the fun, the potty-mouthed party girl whose from-left-field approach helped to solidify her as the next big thing. And, well, somewhere in the middle, we got Miss Corinne Bailey Rae.
The Sade-esque Enchantment is one of the many bedroom ballads that Rae makes classy and sensual; lush, gentle and a real piece of ear candy, its a very intelligent listen. Raes performance, whispery and longing, sparkles amidst the trembling keys and luscious strings, creating the best song on the set. Til It Happens To You would be a more expected Corinne Bailey Rae track, somber and sparsely arranged. With only a lonesome guitar, Motown-tined background vocals and starry keys, the track relies on Rae and her lyricism; both are primo-conflicted, reflective and quasi-quiet storm. Oddly titled Choux Pastry Heart sounds a lot better than you think it does, a tender piano-led ballad that reads like an earthier Alicia Keys, thanks to the more emotional vocal performance. You feel her desperation and anguish with each note, the stormy production and desolate guitar snugly embracing her. Its a bit more artsy fartsy but reminds one of my favorites, thanks to its superb melody and uniqueness. Breathless feels like an old Motown track; with girl group influenced background vocals, braying horns, dense production and soaring hook, its a pure throwback. It has a good heart about it, a lovestruck somewhat midtempo that doesnt rely on any one element more than another; balance is the name of the game and Corinne Bailey Rae is winning.
Past single Like a Star is a lazy, dreamy listen thats stylish, pure and youthful, three things that Rae has in her arsenal to use at her own discretion. Led by her supple vocal and elegant guitar that could almost be credited as her duet partner, this poetic love song gives Rae a venue for a distinct optimism. Call Me When You Get This may be one of the more uptempo tracks on the record but feels the most intimate; backed by gospel-influenced organ, abbreviated bass and shuffling keys, its hypnotically head nodding, a somewhat playful little ditty that gets some much needed positivity and tempo on the record; Raes voice gets the chance to be free and flexible for the first time, showing a little less restraint. Another past single, Id Like To surprised me with its frankness and sexuality; with its Janis Joplin-influenced verses and saucy. Shimmying hook, its unexpected but gorgeously done, stacked with whispering bass, muted horns and steady percussion. If you think Corinne Bailey Rae is just a cute, boring songbird, check out this flirty uptempo.
Mammoth first single Put Your Records On suffered from overplay, which downplays how quality that it actually is. Summery, good natured and relaxed, its Oprah-ready mantra-hook is instantly burned into your mind, Raes vocal emphasizing everything it should. She rides the sweltering bassline like a pro, as this track just leaps out of the CD player with its personality and genuineness. The serene Butterfly could have been a cheesy, unlistenable mess but Raes class, style, earnestness and execution make this track about her mother a good listen. Its down-to-earth, reflective and the smilingly quiet vocal gives it a true personalization that makes it a bit more relatable. The pristine strings and luscious horns give the track more depth, as well. Seasons Change makes for a good album closer, a track whose greatest gift is its simplicity. No metaphors, no similes, no half-baked emotion; Raes direct, raw vocal glides around the off-kilter guitar and velvety production, her command of the track seamless. Trouble Sleeping has a noticeable swagger, lounging in a sea of claps, keys and guitar. It has the smoothest, most sensual hook that the track itself could handle; her vocal fits perfectly in the radio-ready arrangement, which is coy, loving and slick.
Though shes not a tabloid queen like her counterparts, Corinne Bailey Rae has crafted a very well-done set of relaxed, emotional, artistic soul songs, a triumph of solid musicianship over the usual slight-of-hand production we see in r&b music these days. Her energy may need to pick up a bit but when you have songs such as these, it doesnt matter the tempo, as theyre captivating enough. Her classiness is to be admired, her voice to be praised. She doesnt sleep with producers; she doesnt use the tabloids to mess with other artists; she shows up at every gig; shes sober when she performs. To put it mildly, Corinne Bailey Rae is a professional, a good girl and a star.
Great Music To Play While: thinking that more British women soul singers need to come to America ASAP
Next Review: Christina Aguilera
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Holly Brook- Like Blood, Like Honey
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