Review Summary: Girl puts her records on; tells you her favourite songs.
With the exception of Yoko Ono, there is probably no one better-placed to tell us about the frailty of mortal love than Corinne Bailey Rae. Having been widowed in early 2008, Rae took an indefinite hiatus from music to mourn her husband's death before ultimately returning in 2010 to record The Sea
, an album which comfortably displayed the artist's burgeoning understanding of her role as one of modern soul's brightest stars.
Yet, in an age of online romances and speed dating, Rae’s latest release – a collection of covers unified under a singular “love” theme – seems to be a bit of an anachronism. Although an attempt to reinvent the wheel it is not, many of Rae’s brash interpretations do manage to turn out some surprisingly pleasant results. Her final potpourri is smooth, dense, and flavourful, the artist seemingly at great ease with her self-concocted potion of soft rock and dirty groove. Indeed, her rehash of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is particularly infectious, while the deep, sensual interpretation of “Low Red Moon” goes a long way towards recalling the stunning vistas of a wintry desert at midnight. In the latter half of the album, Rae even pays tribute to the McCartneys' lovers' tragedy, with her desperate rendition of "My Love" strongly suggesting that sometime, somewhere, the bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear-blue - if you'd only care to get to them on your Appaloosa stallion.
As it turns out, the release's greatest strength ultimately lies in the presence of strong song choices throughout, with Rae's brand of husky vocals proving to be a veritable hotbed for the slick production quality of the modern recording studio. Indeed, the only real weakness on this compilation is the live performance of “Que Sera Sera”, whose 13 minute length makes listening to it a bit of a chore. Interestingly however, its forced and drawn-out ending manages to act as a bizarrely-apt metaphor for love's propensity to wring one's guts out and then splatter them on the pavement, making for an inexplicably satisfying conclusion to the whole affair.
Love is such a tricky little bastard, isn't it? From an observer's perspective, it must be extremely difficult to have to wake up every morning stricken with a source of invisible pain and, on top of that, be cruelly saddled with a heart capable of nothing but feeling sorry for itself. Yet, it is safe to wager that most of us would not have it any other way, for vulnerability is the very essence of our humanity.
Lennon was right when he said that love couldn’t possibly have been left behind in the Roaring Sixties, but Rae’s latest EP shows that it may very well have taken on a different form since then, and that we still bleed for it.