Corinne Bailey Rae, 'The Sea' (Capitol)

6
The Sea
Critical Mass
Label: Capitol

by Mikael Wood

This English folk-soul chanteuse broke out four years ago with a breezy self-titled debut that made Norah Jones sound like a deep thinker. In 2008, though, Rae's husband died unexpectedly, and on The Sea you can hear her grief. It's a darker, grittier effort suffused with a kind of shell-shocked melancholy. The mournful ballads are achingly pretty, but Rae is most compelling when trying to distract herself from her loss: Check out "The Blackest Lily," a freaky fuzz-funk rave-up with an assist from Roots drummer ?uestlove and keyboardist James Poyser.

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