“What I’m listening to” is a weekly series of music that reigns at the top of my personal playlist. Music that I think is cool and deserves a mention and some extra attention.
This week: Corinne Bailey Rae.
When my mother told me about yet another “awesome new singer that I should have heard about” back in 2006 she gained my attention only when she showed me an article in the paper (she was and still is a huge fan of shows like “Idols,” “X-Factor,” “The Voice” etc, which -with all due respect- has led her to believe more than once she’d just heard the “next best thing”).
The columnist’s words about this British young woman were so praising, indeed dubbing her the “next best thing” and describing her style as a mix between R&B songwriting and smooth nu soul topped with angelic vocals, that -sceptic as I tend to be regarding these kind of promises,” even I got interested.
My mother wouldn’t be my mother if she didn’t come home with Corinne’s first -self titled- record that very next day.
Now I can tell you that we’ve worn down quite a few CD’s back home when I was still living with my parents. Me and my mom would make a habit not only out of constantly playing records that we liked (she also kinda “raised” me music-taste wise 🙂 ), but also organizing regular “listening nights” where we’d play her old Vinyls on her (also old) record player, pointing each other at things like “super nice phrase,” “beautiful chord-change” and “stunning harmonization.”
Corinne’s CD however, that was a whole other level. I hadn’t seen my mom so into an album since “Songs in the Key of Life.”
But yeah, what can I say? Deservedly so. As we got to know the tracks better and better and -as tend to happen when music grows on you- we discovered more and more interesting, cool, awesome, grooving, genius parts in the music, next to the quite instantly noticeable great songwriting skills of this lady.
Corinne indeed has a voice that is smooth as silk, yet somehow pure and almost “child like,” as if she was singing lullabies. Spot on. Full of emotion.
Next to that angelic voice, she also plays guitar, which she uses to shape her songs that are not only captivating melody-wise, but accompanied by beautiful harmonic changes.
Top that off with a band that oozes musicality, adding a deep body to the overall sound and there you have one of my favorite albums of the 00’s.
When a couple of years later, wondering where this awesome artist had been al this time (no new material released for over a three year period), I read about Corinne losing her husband and fellow musician Jason Rae, which had led her to produce a much “darker” album as it was put, I remember feeling a really deep sense of sadness and compassion.
Immediately taking her new album for a spin proved once again the astonishing power of music and it’s capability to express emotion.
Though it never took me to the same hight as her previous album had done, it was yet again a proof of craftsmanship.
Below, my all time favorite track of hers, of which I recently found a stunning live version (though with a beautiful string addition, no bass -which does add that extra level of awesomeness to this track on the record for me personally-) which demonstrates the pureness of her voice superbly as well (also below). Below that, the favorite off of her second album, showing another, more up-tempo (WHAT A TRACK!) side of hers.
If you dig this stuff: let it be an inspiration and motivation to check out more of her work.