Corinne Bailey Rae still lives up to hype

Corinne Bailey Rae first hit the scene with her 2006 self-titled debut. An endlessly sunny and vaguely introspective album, it spawned a few hits and confirmed her reputation as England’s low-maintenance, mellow answer to the Amy Winehouses and Lily Allens of the music world.

Her follow-up album, “The Sea,” touches on a far more precarious subject: the suspected overdose death of her husband, saxophonist Jason Rae. The album is mercifully free of any histrionics – Rae’s voice rarely rises above a whisper- and takes a meditative look at her grieving process and her forced maturation.

The album, true to form, is a mix of bluesy funk, rock and placid jazz. “The Sea” has no obvious hits like her debut album, but “Paris Nights/New York Mornings” comes the closest in terms of sound and tone. Other songs evoke everyone from Al Green to Earth, Wind and Fire, but the sound is inarguably all her own.

Its appeal isn’t as wide as the first album, but “The Sea” is evidence of a truly talented singer-songwriter. It just goes to show that just because Rae is down, it doesn’t mean she’s out.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at

Rating: 3/4 stars

Release Date: Jan. 26

Producer: Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou

Label: Capitol Records