NOW Album Review: Corinne Bailey Rae

“The Heart Speaks In Whispers.”


Corinne Bailey Rae has always been able to capture the ephemeral, complex nature of love. Her 2006 self-titled debut, 2010’s introspective The Sea, and 2011’s The Love EP – all of which sound fresh and relevant today – showcase these explorations with unfettered honesty. Five years later, Rae returns, proving why she continues to hold an inimitable place in music.


Three full-lengths in, her music continues to revolve around desire and hope. However, on THSIW these themes don’t meld as smoothly. The Skies Will Break, Tell Me and Stop Where You Are, though rousing anthems about perseverance and faith in the darkest moments, divert some of the flow away from an album that’s best when Rae’s eyes are squarely set on intimate love. (An exception being Walk On, which marries inspiration with a soulful groove).


Rae’s languid enunciation gets lost on faster tracks, and on Caramel and Night her vocal style shifts to a heavy-handed singer/songwriter coffee house/lullaby mode. Most captivating are the moments when she returns to exploring the thrill of vulnerability on Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart; emotional standoffs on Been To The Moon; and anxiety-inducing ruminations on Do You Ever Think of Me? These songs resonate because they illuminate those inescapable experiences that come with being in love. 


Sexy throwback R&B track Green Aphrodisiac (featuring Esperanza Spalding on background vocals) is a particular standout, while collaborations with Paris Strother of R&B group King (Been To The Moon, Green Aphrodisiac and Horse Print Dress) take Rae’s genre fluidity to new levels by combining slinky funk and bold jazz influences. Those cuts remind us of her knack for telling stories about love that are both relatable and magical.


Top track: Been To The Moon