I was watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno one evening when he introduced a new artist from the UK, Corinne Bailey Rae. I was immediately captivated by the soft vocals and catchy beat that made up her single, Put Your Records On. That same night I ran across the music video on VH1 and the very next day I stopped by Target and picked up her self-titled debut album.
A bit of Norah Jones mixed with Lauren Hill and Sade, can best describe the sound of Rae’s debut album. Silky vocals and thoughtful lyrics make the album stand out, and puts it high on the list of the most played tracks on my iPod.
The album starts off with Like A Star, a breezy track that pulls you in immediately. As I’ve mentioned, Rae’s voice is very soft and seems to pour right over the listener like honey. Her voice has a light raspy-ness to it, but not pronounced enough to become annoying. The opener is simply composed, with light vocals and guitar- nothing big- and sets the tone for a pretty laid back album.
Enchantment is another simple track that might get misplaced once you’re moved onto the stronger songs on the album. The beat’s a bit catchier with this one, but it mostly just provides a lead into the album’s aforementioned first single, Put Your Records On.
Put Your Records On makes such a great first single, as it introduces us all to Rae’s light R&B sound. The song is simple and carefree, and while listening, you’ll feel as calm as Corinne does as she rides down the street on her bike in the video.
Trouble Sleeping is another great track. Like the title suggests, it gives off a great lazy, late-at-night vibe. Lyrics like, “Could it be I’m suffering because I’ll never give in?/Don’t say that I’m falling in love”, give away the simple meaning of the song, but the jazzy background and Rae’s vocals add more beauty to the song.
A track that seems to have mixed reactions is Choux Pastry Heart. I simply love it. And shame on those of you who didn’t bother to look up the meaning of Choux (pronounced “show”)- a simple search on Wikipedia for “Choux Pastry” tells me that it’s “a form of light pastry used to make profiteroles or eclairs”, which actually makes sense in a song about heartbreak. The thing I like about this particular track is how subdued it is. It starts off with slow, haunting, piano and Rae’s vocals are appropriately sad. The lyrics, while moderately simple (“Don’t want to lose you/Don’t even own you/I just want to stay right here/Until never dawns”), fit perfectly with the somber mood of the song.
Breathless is a stand out track that actually sounds like something similar to Alicia Keys. A nice R&B beat accompanies sweet lyrics (“I get so breathless when you call my name/I’ve often wondered do you feel the same?”) about falling in love with your best friend.
I’d Like To is a funky track, in which Rae reflects on her childhood and how its made her who she is now. Honestly, Rae’s vocals are a bit grating in this song for some reason, and it took a while to warm up to me, but the autobiographical lyrics (“Rhea sat on the front step getting her hair combed out and greased/and music, the bass booming, pours from a car parked in the street”) made it bit more interesting for me.
A few of the songs on the album don’t provide much more than background music. Till It Happens To You is a mellow, bluesy track, but doesn’t have much in it to hold my interest. The vocals are beautiful and the melody is nice, but the song is simply too boring. Butterfly and Call Me When You Get This also seem to suffer from the same problem. Again, both songs have nice vocals and pretty melodies, but neither stand out against the better tracks on the album.
The album ends with Seasons Change, another Alicia Keys/Lauren Hill-esque track. This song has more of a soul feel to it, and it works well. The song continues the album’s relaxing tone, and this provides a great ending to the album.
Corinne Bailey Rae’s debut album was such a treat. I was pleasantly surprised with her vocal prowess and songwriting skills, and I’ll be looking for more from her in the future.
1. Like A Star
3. Put Your Records On
4. Till It Happens To You
5. Trouble Sleeping
6. Call Me When You Get This
7. Choux Pastry Heart
9. I’d Like To
11. Seasons Change