Loss. It is more than a feeling. It is an inevitable, yet a crushing punch that will force its way into the lives of all. It is not the damage of the blow that defines us; it is what we channel from it that makes us human. Corinne Bailey Rae experienced an almost unimaginable tragedy in losing her husband of only seven years, the one person she had chosen to spend the rest of her days with. Her long anticipated sophomore release recounts the oozing sea of emotions she has experienced from the onset with “Are You Here”.
An opener exuding Rae’s trademark charm, “Are You Here” exhibits an intimacy not seen on records in today’s music scene. The rising and falling tempo molds perfectly with the songbird’s silky vocals as her heart calls out to her late husband in remembrance of their tragically, short-lived time spent together. The Sea coolly advances into the lead single “I’d Do It All Again”, a soaring yet heartbreaking record that was penned a few months before her husband’s untimely passing. It beautifully chronicles the definition of marriage: a lifetime commitment to the vows one takes in front of God as well as practicing the art of loving and forgiving. The jazzy sounds of “Feels Like The First Time” are amplified by tinkling piano keys that echo a dreamy Corinne, recalling the innocence of falling in love; simpler times like late night phone calls into the wee hours of the night or the first kiss shared between two aspiring lovers.
The closest example of an R&B record, “Closer” sees Rae pursuing an epic love (one almost mythical) while “Love’s On Its Way” features the artist patiently wandering through endless thoughts of aspiring love behind an eerie, nearly nonexistent backdrop that beats from within the darkest recesses of her soul. The final two records, “Diving For Hearts” and “The Sea”, bring this opus to a fitting close as “Diving” finds Rae metaphorically diving to the darkest depths of her emotions, in search of her gentle yet still beating heart. Corinne Bailey Rae comes full circle at the close of the album as she willingly cedes herself to “The Sea”, due for a thorough cleansing as the grief is washed away. Closure is found in a fitting goodbye to the love of her life.
The simplest approach of critiquing this record would be a likening of it to her adventurous debut (the closest instance of such comparison being “Paris Nights/New York), but this work stems from an artist at their most emotional peak; unwilling to conform and dealing with their loss. The Sea is a therapeutic piece of self-expression as Corinne Bailey Rae echoes a sea of emotions over lush soundscapes, which unpredictably shift from titanic heights of happiness to unimaginable depths of heart-shaking grief. Yet her heart whispers to her to press onward. Like Picasso at the peak of his abilities, Mrs. Bailey Rae produces another enchanting mural of the power that everlasting love can have over one, stroke by delicate stroke.
4.5 out of 5 spins
Edited by Kingsley “Young Kingz” Osei