Music

Corinne Bailey Rae: Corinne Bailey Rae

Christian John Wikane

Corinne Bailey Rae has the right ingredients but the wrong recipe on debut.


Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne Bailey Rae

Label: EMI
US Release Date: 2006-06-20
UK Release Date: 2006-02-27
Amazon
iTunes

What is an éclair or profiterole without choux pastry? Lots of filler. The self-titled debut by Corinne Bailey Rae has just enough choux pastry -- including a song entitled "Choux Pastry Heart" -- to make it a notable release for June 2006. As with any éclair though, sometimes the choux pastry falls apart in your hands.

With eight producers and 11 co-writers dispersed over 11 tracks, Corinne Bailey Rae has plenty of talent shaping her songs, most of which are meditations on the excitement of new love. Only three tracks ("Seasons Change", "Choux Pastry Heart", and "'Til It Happen to You") suggest the sting of love gone wrong. A 27-year-old Pisces from Leeds, England, Corinne Bailey Rae sings more convincingly of the former than the latter.

The singer's whispery voice and her acoustic guitar set the album in motion on "Like a Star", a song which blooms through a pollination of strings, bass, drums, and organ (in that order). Self-penned by Bailey Rae, the tune also served as the title track to a three-song EP that found a home on iTunes in March 2006.

"Enchantment" -- also from the EP -- ushers the listener into the realm of the nocturnal. It's dreamy and sultry. It also features the best vocal performance on the entire album. Bailey Rae doesn't take the words for granted. There's no mistaking what the love-stuck vocalist means when she sighs "He draws me in / I'm powerless." Her elocution drips with sensuality.

Even the most jaded radio listener cannot resist the young songwriter's invitation to "Put Your Records On". Audiences in the UK have enjoyed the funky strum of Bailey Rae's guitar on this infectious slice of soul since mid-winter 2006. With the summer heat already sweeping the U.S., Corinne Bailey Rae's fans will no doubt open the sunroof, roll down the windows, and blare this track from car stereos (I know I will, at least once).

The spurious sound of whooshing vinyl frames the otherwise sublime "'Til It Happens to You" in a simulacra of time and space, namely the 1970s. The intention to create an "authentic" music-listening experience of that era is transparent and adds very little to a song that stands well on its own without the gimmick. (Unfortunately, this tired technique appears two tracks earlier on "Enchantment".)

Tellingly, the six productions crafted by Steve Chisanthou best suit Corinne Bailey Rae's musical and lyrical musings. Most of these radio-friendly tracks are frontloaded onto the first half of the disc, such as the lustrous ode to flirtation, "Trouble Sleeping". At the conclusion of "Call Me When You Get This" (one of two non-Chisanthou productions that give Bailey Rae's confections their "choux pastry") the album shifts into a somnambulant state. After such a promising start, Bailey Rae and her stable of producers simply lose momentum. "Choux Pastry Heart" and "Seasons Change" are devoid of melody and espouse such hackneyed wisdom as "patience is a virtue", "all these things happen for a reason", and "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose". On "Seasons Change", which closes the album, one would expect a poignant summation of the album's theme. Instead, the lyrics are drunk on vacuities: Bailey Rae never specifies what "it", "this", and "things" are supposed to reference.

I really want to like Corinne Bailey Rae from start to finish, since I was one of the many who sought the import single of "Put Your Records On" months before the album's stateside release. However, I find myself turning the pages in the accompanying booklet to skip reading the lyrics to a few weak songs that keep this from being a thoroughly-satisfying album. That said, some very strong cuts on Corinne Bailey Rae's debut induce repeat listens. Just approach with caution if you expect to be sated by her "choux pastry" soul.

Corinne Bailey Rae - Like a Star

5

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image