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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 25 January 2010
Having been keen on CBR since her amazing appearance on Later with Jools she has followed up the debut album with a mixed bag of melodies that fortunately brings her back into the fold. I felt that after her partners death that she would fade away. Thank God she hasn't. The album starts with Are You Here which is melancholic with a fragility in her voice that is both tender and touching, almost mournful, but the second track I'd do it all again sees her begin to wind up the immense sensitivity in her voice. Tracks 3,4 & 5 are rockier with CBR showing the full range of her talents, shades of blues, shades of soul diva and shades of the torch singer emerge. Closer is an absolute cracker of a track. Fortunately my album/record/CD/MP3 collection features a diversity of music where CBR sometimes epitomises Dionne Warwick, Etta James, Ella Fitz etc with the haunting melodies with fantastic backing musicians. I've now played this album at least a dozen times and each time it gets better.
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on 10 February 2010
a simply gorgeous album , grabs your attention from the first song to the last and leaves you wanting to listen to it over and over again.infact thats all i have been doing since i purchased the cd, the songs are in my head constantly hard to choose a fave but if i had to it would be the sea followed by paris nights. a lot of albums i disregard after a while this aint gonna be it its just so good..update 6th october 2010 still feel the same way about this album has i did when i purchased it earlier this year infact love it more if ever that was possible. there is not a day goes by i dont listen to this album for me its become a classic lots of albums i purchase come and go this will be one i will keep forever. the best release this year.
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on 4 February 2010
Corinne Bailey Rae's sophomore album is such a leap forward from her self-titled debut the greatest fear has to be that those who tucked into the pink marshmallow of Put Your Records On may just choke on the richer fare on offer here.

References are all to artists and albums that stand out as classics for all time: Curtis Mayfield, 'What's Going On' era Marvin Gaye, and especially Jeff Buckley, whose debut album could have been recorded at any time in the last forty years and yet still sounds contemporary. Oh, and I'm hearing a lot of The Cardigan's first album, 'Life', too... I happen to love that album, it got me over a great heartbreak.

And of course if you know anything about CBR you will know that this is a true heartbreak album. Very few pop musicians - strike that, very few PEOPLE - display the kind of unconditional love that Corinne clearly had for her husband Jason Rae. To have that person taken away from you by an early and accidental death gives one an experience so alien that there is a danger that The Sea (informed by the death of her grandfather as well as her husband) will leave the rest of us staring in at Corinne Bailey Rae from outside the bubble.

That this is not the case is truly remarkable. The music is complex, yet homespun; intelligent AND emotional; deep, yet light. It's all there on display if you want it, but it's also a beautiful piece of music. The other remarkable thing is that the album is self-written without the ubiquitous co-writers of the debut.

Joyfully, the album starts well and after a slightly languid middle section gets better and better. The final triple whammy of Paper Dolls (as disposably fun as it gets), Diving for Hearts (rock!) and The Sea (the pinnacle of Corinne's songwriting so far) leaves one emotionally wrung out in the best possible way.

Some observations: the overall sound of the album is about as far from contemporary RnB as its possible to get: this is music that emanates from a basement, not a computer. I half expected to hear the sounds of coughing and tea cups clinking. While there are 'up' songs and 'down' songs, CBR continues to be a thoughtful songwriter, so there are no easy songs; everything is open and vulnerable, which is not to everyone's taste. Lyrically this English graduate still has some way to go. An album aiming so much higher than the usual fair has its fair share of heroic failues, but this is forgiveable. 'I want you to journey with me/explore all the hidden scenes' is clearly superior in so many ways to 'lick my lollipop', but it's not Wordsworth... yet. Likewise, the melody-writing is not always up to scratch. Feels Like the First Time is largely tune-free after a stonking opening 6 secons that promises way more than the song delivers. But these are minor quibbles. This is a really good album that should stand the test of time.

My greatest hope for this record is that it will move Corinne from the world of faddish 'pop' (she came just after Nora Jones and just before Amy Winehouse) and into a place where she can build a following that will allow her to continue the journey she has begun with this album. Charting a trajectory from Corinne Bailey Rae to The Sea and beyond, we can expect the next album to be something really, really special. For now, this is just very good, a musician's album and a lovers' album. I hope her old fans trust her and that those who may have despised her poppy innocence may discover the beauty and depths of The Sea.
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The tragic background to Corinne Bailey Rae's new album
'The Sea' has been a challenge to her in every possible way.
Her husband Jason Rae's death in 2008 might well have swept her
off course but this extraordinarily brave recording finds her in
darker and more complex musical territory and dealing with her
demons through songs of transcendently raw and honest grace.

Her 2006 eponymous debut album was one of the highlights
of that year. Who could possible forget the pure, lyrical
magic of songs such as 'Like A Star' and 'Butterfly'?

Back in the studio with this collection of eleven new
compositions is both a return to be welcomed but also
an inspiration to anyone who has experienced loss.
She deserves our wholehearted admiration and applause.

The songs are marvellous; her performances grittier and
less polished than her earlier work. There is an immediacy
and spontaneous edge in her voice which drags the soul out
of these deeply personal reflections and brings them to
reverberating life with energy, sadness, anger and love.

It would seem somewhat ignoble to attempt a track by track
dissection of a work of such coherent and bitter-sweet beauty
but also impossible to let the moment pass without mentioning
three songs in particular.

Opening track 'Are You Here', with its sweeping, echoing and
deeply affecting refrain, communicates emotion of such graphic
authenticity that our breath is taken away; the fragile intensity
of her voice on both 'I'd Do It All Again' and title track
'The Sea' takes us deep into the heart of Ms Bailey Rae's grief
and leaves us touched, troubled and inspired in equal measure.

The musical ensemble she has assembled for this self-produced
tour de force acquit themselves with skill and sensitivity but
it is her own unbreakable and dignified presence which gives
this unimpeachable album its awesome power and credibility.

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on 2 February 2010
Whereas CBR's first album was put in the 'pop' category by many, with its bright and breezy tunes, this album is so much more mature and weightier in emotion. For me, it's better for that, more heartfelt and personal.

CBR draws on a greater range of musical influences than previously so there's more to engage with on each listen. In places her voice rises and swells effortlessly and in other places it is entangled and caught in painful undergrowth. This contrast only increases the albums authenticity and connection with the listener. The emotional journey reaches its peak on Love's On Its Way which builds to a great crescendo. There's more noticeable percussion and guitar work to admire on this album than on her debut and the string arrangements where they appear are just delicious.

Given the turbulence of CBR's last few years this is a courageous album that cannot fail to stir the listener. I hope that 'The Sea' reaches the end of 2010 as an album of the year.
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on 3 April 2010
I rarely purchase albums these days (what with file-sharing and mp3s) but after seeing Corinne's performance of 'I'd Do It All Again' on Jools Holland at the end of last year I knew this album would be incredible. It was similar to the feeling I had when I first heard 'Like A Star' from her first album. She just seems to have that effect on me.

It's inescapable that this album is coloured by the tragic loss of her husband Jason in early 2008. Even the songs written before his death seem melancholy and tinged with grief. Anyone who appreciates Corinne's beautifully soulful music will love this album. It's certainly a lot heavier than her first (how could it fail to be, given what has happened to her?) but she's only got better in the intervening time between the two and has grown both as a songwriter and as a musician. Several tracks made me cry but the stand-outs for me are Are You Here, I'd Do It All Again, Feels Like The First Time, Love's On It's Way and The Sea. That's basically half the album. Are You Here in particular reminded me of Jeff Buckley. Is there a higher accolade in music?

I have to say I wasn't such a fan of The Blackest Lily and Paper Dolls which seem to drift into rock territory. Quiet, reverent soul is what Rae does best and, thankfully, she sticks to it for the majority of this album. I've had it on repeat for days and I never do that with albums, only with songs. The sleeve notes also include all the lyrics (which is always appreciated) and several beautiful pieces of photography. The whole piece hangs together really well. Buy it and you'll keep coming back to it.
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on 18 March 2010
I couldn't possibly be as eloquent as some of the previous reviewers, and I don't want to repeat anything, but...

...this record is simply superb. Heartbreaking - and uplifting - lyrics, fabulously inventive music played by real musicians. And, of course, Corinne's unique voice; both in her songwriting and her performance.

My favourite tracks? The more I hear it, the more join the list. I'd do it All Again is the obvious leader of the pack, as we've heard it and seen it performed, majestically, more than the others. Are You Here makes me cry as soon as it begins, and if you know Corinne's backstory - as most of us now do - it's impossible not to. Closer is just so funky and sexy. Diving for Pearls is as dramatic as you've ever heard her. And The Sea is simply sublime.

My favourite album of the past decade was Back in Black by Amy Winehouse. Not any more.

Welcome back, Mrs Rae. Keep on doing what you're doing.
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on 1 February 2010
Bearing in mind the tragic events overshadowing CBR and the fact that many of these songs were composed prior to her husband's death in 2008 it is a wonderful surprise that this album is so beautiful.
It is a followup of course to her successful debut but also to a lesser extent, a document of the last two years. This is music that is seeking answers in the future, almost a rediscovery of music and passion. Less twee than her debut and much better for it.
This is a lovely though moving collection of songs. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 3 February 2010
I think this may be one of the most important albums made in the past ten years (if not twenty).
Having been gagging on all the Melodyne, vocal-pitch corrected garbage that passes for music on the airwaves nowadays, this feels like some one has finally opened the windows, let in the fresh air and vented the fumes. I'd almost given up hoping for music of this quality to come around again. Thanks to CBR for restoring my faith :o)

The last time I got a buzz like this off an album was when Rickie Lee Jones released her debut back in '79.
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on 23 September 2011
As most people agree, after a great debut - as it was the case of her 2006 homonymous album - , the most complicated thing usually is to pull out a fine second work. Here, Corinne Bailey just did it perfectly.
While there are some distinctive very own marks on "The Sea", in songs such as Feels Like The First Time, Paris Nights/New York Mornings or I'll do it all again; there are some really surprising and outstanding tunes like Paper Dolls and The Blackest Lily. This way, this is an absolutely wonderful Bailey Rae's comeback with a stunning soul / jazz / pop album. All this, considering of course, the admirable capability of Corinne to write such magnificent and life-affirming music after a heavy personal loss.
Don't hesitate at the time of buying this album - it's well worth every cent of its price!
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